Traveling Under the Radar

Armenia's newly-appointed prime minister, Hovik Abrahamian with President Serzh Sarkisian


A proposed bill seeks to classify travels of President, Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker

The next time President Serzh Sarkisian decides to travel to South Korea for “rejuvenation” therapy, he can do so without anyone’s knowledge. Ditto for the Prime Minister if he chooses to engage in off-shore investments, as his predecessor was alleged to have been. Ditto for the parliament speaker. All this thanks to new proposed legislation pending in Armenia Parliament that would classify the top leaders’ travels as “top secret.”

On Thursday, the parliament debated such a bill that was drafted by Armenia’s National Security Service and proposed for consideration by the legislature. Under Armenian law, information related to state officials’ travel, whose expenses are covered by the state budget, are public and accessible to the media.

The NSS deputy director Arzuman Harutinunyan presented the bill to parliament and said that the current transparency provision of the law undermines the security of Armenia’s three senior most leaders. Of course the ruling Republican Party of Armenia parliament members advocated for the bill, among them the newly-minted Parliament Speaker Galust Sahakian, who seeks to benefit from the provisions.

“I’ve looked up international legislation on such issues and even checked the Stalin-era practices,” said Naira Zohrabian of the Prosperous Armenia Party as quoted by RFE/RL. “Even there I didn’t see any cases where expenditures of high-ranking state officials were carried out secretly.”

Other opposition lawmakers opined that this new bill gives these leaders carte blanche to continue their corruption, but in secret.

Last year, disclosures suggested that the then Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan had spent an excess of $200,000 from the state budget to hire private jets and other amenities for his travel.

So, instead of curbing such expenditures, this “new and improved” government is opting to continue its lavish spending, and call it a “state secret.” So much for the promised change.

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21 Comments

  1. Armenian said:

    To hell with these pariahs! And if anyone rises up and tries to teach these jerks a lesson, they will be responsible for causing “instability” in Armenia, right? Not the people who are committing the actual injustices, but the people who are going to bare the brunt of their actions.

    And how exactly is this supposed to be in Armenia’s best interest? If any of the idiots who support this regime needed any more proof that these people act strictly in their own interests, this is it. I am certain that Moscow is even protecting these grotesque, cancerous and parasitic “human beings”, which is why they’ve gotten so lkstvac and habrgac in the past few months.

    Amazing how an era of less transparency, less freedom of press, more oppression, less accountability and I’m sure an even larger gap between rich and poor has already increased in the few months that Armenia has begun talking about the Customs Union.

    Long live the Russo-Armenian relationship and protect it from all logical and critical-thinking people both at home and in the diaspora!

    • George said:

      What does the Customs Union and the Russo-Armenian relationship (a relationship that far predates the establishment of the FIRST republic) have to do with the lack of transparency of current and previous administrations?

      • Armenian said:

        Because the Customs Union depends on authoritative, backwards, undemocratic and secretive “leaders” like the ones in Russia, Belarus and Kazakstan, who feel no inclination to serve their people and allow for positive societal development in order to stick together. These regimes thrive on corruption, lack of transparency, cronyism, and state sponsored oppression of free thought and speech– exactly everything that Armenia does NOT need in order to become a better country.

        If you still can’t connect the dots, Armenia’s “entry” into the Customs Union is a result of Russia having way too much power in every aspect of Armenia’s resources and being, and it was very clearly a decision that was forced onto Armenia against its will. Relations with Russia need not exceed that of the military sphere. The Customs Union is destined for failure because it is so fundamentally weak and built on nothing but forced pressure by the Kremlin to make former Soviet satellites pay tribute to its glory in its court.

        • George said:

          I agree with some of what you say. Mostly your first paragraph. Russia supplies gas to Armenia and controls pieces of infrastructure vital to Armenia’s survival. But so do the French, British, and Americans. It is understandable why Russia would “force” Armenia to join the CU, considering we house their military base and they basically provide us with gas. And at last, over a million Armenian citizens currently work and live in Russia. It will take years to replace the Soviet era economic ties the republics held with Moscow, especially a landlocked country like Armenia. Again, I agree with some of what you have to say. Armenia does not need cronyism corruption and administrations that are not transparent.

  2. Zareh Sahakian said:

    THIS type of thievery will do us in, not the latest missiles of Azerbaijan.

  3. Vindicated Man said:

    Before they enact anything like this, they need to ensure there are proper systems and controls in place (conflict of interest, safe whistleblowing, …). Classifying certain travel activities (and not of those of highest ranks only) is fine, if it has to do with safety, or state interests. Sneaking out for an expensive treatment is definitely wrong.

    • Armenian said:

      Don’t be naive– expensive treatments and leisurely travel is what these “classified trips” are going to be used for.

  4. Ani said:

    Shame on them! You can expect anything from these thieves. When our nation is going to wake up and kick these immoral people out? I hope soon.

  5. vartan said:

    WHAT A SURPRISE…… ALL CHINOVNIKS AS THEY SAY IN THEIR MOTHER TUNGS , SPECIALY REPUBLICAN PARTY MEMBERS ARE CURRUPTED . LOOK AT THE SPEAKERS FACE.HE SHOULD BE SHOEMAKER , OR A PAINTER. NOT A SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, HOW WILL HE COMMUNICATE AND INTERACT WITH OTER COUNTRIES POLITICIAN, HE IS A JOKE. HE IS A NATIONAL SHAME

  6. Sokimag said:

    That does not surprise me at all. Poor people of Armenia, they are being robbed their precious money for the hidden travel expenses of the ruling elite of Armenia.

  7. Sylva-MD-Poetry said:

    The tyrants create their own laws …
    To live happily after …But is there something called happy after…!!!
    Their happiness will end soon, for what ever they try …
    They arrived to serve …not secretly fly and enjoy
    themselves on their poor people’s account…!
    SP

  8. Garo Yeghichian said:

    Why this expenditures has to be so secretly?The state of Armenia is short of money as it is.

    • Armenian said:

      The state is short on money for everyone else, but it’s plentiful for the ruling elites. People don’t have money because most of it is going to these scumbags.

  9. Armenian said:

    This is far beyond corruption– dzer en arnum mardkanc…

  10. Hrant said:

    Very Sad!
    We are our own worst enemy, as if we weren’t after 5000 years of history, we should have been a world power by now…w/all the “smart” Armenians.
    So, what can we do? And what are we doing about it?
    Except watching Armenia empty the population…As an Azeri once said…”We are stupid, as if we left Armenians alone, they will empty their country for us, and we will just walk in”….
    Let’s all put our heads together and prosper together!

  11. GeorgeMardig said:

    We should compare our president with others and we will see that everywhere in the world, inculding EU play the same game, people should go and see corruption in EU, rich countries in the West are more corrupt than in Armenia, besides we should be proud that our president takes care of his image, what he’s spending on himself are peanuts comparing to the real thieves that are doing nothing but steal, at least Serzh Sarkisian is a president and is running the country in these difficult days. We should be fair and not go hard on every action he makes.

    • Armenian said:

      Really? Trying to sling mud at the EU? The EU has some of the least corrupt and efficient countries in the world. You can’t compare the problems of one or two countries in Southern Europe to the whole apparatus. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France are among the top ones. Your Customs Union crowd could only dream of being as transparent and stable as those countries.

      And so your claim that “others steal” makes his actions justifiable? I don’t care what other people are doing– which, by the way, they’re not, because a leader’s travel expenses are supported through the state budget and given that it’s taxpayer money, knowledge should be available to the public and is in every country, including Azerbaijan. How would you like it if someone took your money and offered you no explanations as to what they do with it? Oh, I know why you’re not so bothered– you probably don’t live in Armenia and don’t have to worry about politicians stealing your money and spending it on themselves and their habrgac lifestyles.

    • Robert Davidian said:

      George, there is so much wrong with what you write that I don’t know where to begin.

      #1 SS has stolen well over 1 BILLION DOLLARS from the poor struggling people. (RKocharian 4BILLION!)
      #2 Armenia has the biggest PER CAPITA theft of funds of all countries in the region.
      #3 TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT!!! We don’t care about other countries; we deeeeeply care about Armenia (and the old people starving + freezing in Gyumri tin cans)!! In all other EU countries at least there are independent judiciaries; in Armenia judges simply rule in favor of Republiican Party everytime – because they are so afraid of being fired! These guys are IN IT FOR the money. They don’t give a hoot about the people living in cans in Gyumri!
      #4 The Republic of Armenia is (in writing) a democracy! Every other democracy is rule of the people BY the people – not of the people BY the oligarch/MP/monopoly-business-owner/thieves and thugs!

  12. Lus said:

    I wouldn’t say it about anyone else but President Sarkissian deserves it!

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