YEREVAN (Yerkir.am)—Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Armen Rustamian Wednesday warned that Armenia was embroiled in a societal crisis, saying the country was being controlled by a “wealthy class” and citing the absence of democratic reforms, during a press briefing.
As a result, Rustamian said, there does not exist a government that is ruled by the people, but rather a plutocracy that is governed by an elite class of wealthy Armenians who engage in wide-spread corruption and disregard for rule of law.
Rustamian said “unwritten and unconstitutional laws” regulate the country’s political, judicial and economic systems. In this climate, he explained, the pursuit of justice becomes impossible, since the ruling party, the leadership and the government has become one.
On the economic front, Rustamian’s assessment was equally bleak. He cited certain estimations according to which 40 to 50 families control Armenia’s budget, threatening the existence of a middle class.
As the ARF moves toward a pledged campaign for regime change, Rustamian said Armenia needed a drastic change of the entire governing system in Armenia, if it is to emerge from this crisis and flourish in a truly democratic society.
Rustamian proposed a parliamentary system of government, explaining that the presidential system has wreaked havoc on the country and poses clear dangers for Armenian society. He also emphasized the need to lift the immunity of parliament members and hold them accountable.
The people must hold their right to elect and vote in the highest regard so that the government can be represented by the people and not “some kind of an oligarchy.”
“The main component of democracy is the representative democracy. In this case, I refer to the parliament, which needs to balance the executive branch,” explained Rustamian. “Our parliament does not represent the true picture. The parliament is not merely weak but, for the executive branch, it is inept.”
He explained that there was a discrepancy between legislation that is borne from the parliament to measures that are pushed by the government. The ratio, he said, was 1 to 9.
“The other component [of democracy] is the participatory element, based on which the population can impact the outcome of all decisions being made in the country,” said Rustamian.
“The second component is the immediate democracy whereby the people express their will through elections and referendums,” added Rustamian. “However, the process has not been established in Armenia since the will of the people is ignored.”
At the conclusion of the press briefing, Rustamian announced that the ARF will host, on Thursday, a conference entitled “Challenges of Democracy and Nation Building in Armenia,” during which international experts, human rights advocates and representatives from the Constitutional Court will make presentations. He explained that the conference will also examine the importance of democracy, the current state of democracy in Armenia and will propose ways to remedy the current crisis.