Corruption by the Numbers

Garen Yegparian


We hear a lot about corruption, and see various forms of it in our daily lives. Sadly, in some places, such as Armenia, it is present at a disturbing, probably economically disruptive, scale.

For the last two decades, Transparency International and Goettingen University have compiled a “Corruption Perception Index” which is a “poll of polls” as they describe it. They amass others’ studies of corruption in countries throughout the world and produce an annual tabulation of countries with a rating, on a scale of 0-10, where 10 means corruption free and 0 totally corrupt. They require that a minimum of three (formerly four) surveys/studies include a country for that to be included in their index. They have used at least twelve surveys/studies since 1999 (earlier years had fewer). Polling done over the preceding three years is considered valid for inclusion in any year’s compilation. For these reasons, they caution that year-to-year comparisons should not be made easily. But take a look at the accompanying table, and you’ll note the trends in our homeland and its neighbors are pretty consistent.

Corruption by Numbers Data from Transparency International

Russia and Iran don’t fare well, as you can see in the table which lists each country’s rank and score by year. But more embarrassing is that Georgia and Turkey both seem “cleaner” than the Republic of Armenia (RoA). This is particularly painful since Georgia started out roughly equal to RoA. Azerbaijan turns out to be perceived as more corrupt than Armenia, no surprise, given its de facto hereditary monarchic system of government. But even relative to Azerbaijan, RoA is poised for embarrassment since the former has been steadily improving while the latter, though improving initially, has been getting worse since 2008.

This is not good. It makes people’s lives miserable. It creates an uncertain business climate. It gives our opponents ammunition when Diasporans worldwide try to support Armenia through advocacy in their host country capitals. And, while it can’t all be pinned on Serzh Sarkissian, at this point, given the timing of the downward trend in “cleanliness” and his 2008 election, much blame can be laid at his feet.

In these celebratory days of RoA’s twentieth birthday, we must not be blinded to the problems that must be solved for the country to truly progress. Perhaps President Sarkissian should be reminded of that lofty office’s duty to the people during his visit to the United States this week.

It’s our job not only to support Armenia, but to be the eyes that see and ears that hear things that our landlocked-homeland-dwelling-compatriots are less likely to perceive. It is our moral duty to do so. Let’s not be derelict in helping clean up corruption in Armenia. Raise your voices against this blight. Let Sarkissian know how you feel.


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  1. said:

    Where is America on this scale? Corruption here is more sophisticated, that’s true, but it’s also way more damaging. Start with nepotism – look where the children of the privileged end up working. And it’s not only politicians, but your civil servants too.

    Privileged American universities are filled with dumb and ignorant higher class students, then they get internships because their parents know people and after graduation they have no trouble finding jobs in government or private sector moving up quickly.

  2. Antonio Antaramian said:

    The main problem in Armenia, more than the closed border with Turkey, is corruption. There is no developed country with corruption index below 7
    Letting Mr Sarkissian know is not enough. We have to think some other solution It may help exposing the most corrupt individuals in a website and to make this available in Armenia
    We need more ideas to diminish this corruption level, How Georgia did it ?

  3. Seervart said:

    Thank you Garen for the article and the table. It is clear to us how bad deep rooted corruption is in Armenia. We’ve been saying time and again that the gov’t of Armenia and the darn oligarchs are like cancer, hurting the majority of the people and pretty much pushing them out of our Motheerland. I don’t understand how unpatriotic could these people be? Why are they being so selfish and un-patriotic? If our enemy is acting like one, then what is the difference between our enemies (the Turks and the Azeris) and our own people and our own government? The Turks as enemies to Armenia have been illegally blockading her for the past 19 years. The Azeris as our other enemies are constantly threatening war against Armenia and Artsakh and totally ignoring the signed ceasefire with Artsakh. And what is Sarkisian’s administration along with the oligarchs doing right for Armenia? Let history be recorded that this administration is doing nothing constructive for the people of Armenia for them to be able to remain there. For the way they are behaving they are not any better than our number one dual enemies. If Sarkisian and his administration has any care for their country then they must start creating jobs for the people and stop strangling them with corruption. Enough already.

  4. Seervart said:

    I would like to add my thoughts that we cannot whatsoever compare ourselves with neither Iran nor Russia. They are both very large countries with vast populations. Russia with 6,592,800 sq. miles and a population of 145 Million people. Iran with 636,372 sq. mi

  5. Seervart said:

    Iran with 636,372 sq. miles and a population of 78 million people. Iranians are the indigenous people of the ancient Persia and of today’s Iran. Both the huge Russia and Iran’s freedom was never interrupted, they both have plenty access to the seas. Meanwhile Armenia has newly found her indipendence 20 years ago after the collapse of Communism, it is landocked without any sea, consisting of 29,743 kilometers only and a population consisting of only 3.3 Million. Therefore both Russia and Iran can afford to be more corrupted, but it is not the same with our little landlocked Armenia. Armenia for the sake of the people in it, cannot afford the level of corruption that is in existence now. Armenians in both in diaspora and must fight against corruption in Armenia if they want to see an Armenia on the map of the globe.

  6. Hrair said:

    It would be absolutley falbergasting to think that Sarkisyan is unaware of the corruption that is fervent in our home land. And unfortunately I am unconvinced that he (or other members of the rulling coalition government) would be that keen to erradicate it. Unfortunately it is difficult not to think that they too stand to gain fom the chronic corruption that exists in Armeni. Sargisyan must act and be a president for the whole of the nation and not just those who voted for him or stand to gain from his presidency. But I am in full agreement with the author of the article that the President of Armenia should be reminded of his duties and erradication of corruption must be on top of his Agenda. Well said Garen Yegparian.

  7. Tos McSaled said:

    I am curious … how can you judge the level of corruption in any country based on the “perception” of change? You can, maybe, highlight economic change by polling manufacturers about how they feel about demand, but I highly doubt any sort of poll like this can really show a trend.

  8. Edmond Khudyan said:

    Corruption is killing Armenia. I’m a victim of that corruption, visit to learn more about $5,600,000 theft and cover up by courts and high rank officials and corruption there.

  9. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    Another excellent article by Garen. This problem has tormented me to no end. How do we end corruption in Armenia? What a shame that we are saddled with it for such a long time?
    Nearly 3-years ago I sent this article to Asbarez for publication. It never got published. I was ignored. Are we in cahoots with the corruption going on in Armenia, is my question.
    From: Aarde V. Atheian []
    Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 5:57 PM
    To: ‘’
    Subject: Article on Corruption in Armenian Government

    This article appears in the current issue of the Gov’t Accountability Project Newsletter. I’m a subscriber both to Asbarez and GAP and I thought you might want to expose it to our readership.
    ArdeVast Atheian
    Aarde V. Atheian, 560 N. Plymouth Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004-1411; Phone&Fax 323.465.2695, Email:

    Plundering the Yerevan Water Utility
    Report on Corrupt World Bank Project involving Armenian Water Supply
    August 1, 2008

    Over the course of the past year, GAP has investigated allegations of corruption in the World Bank-funded Municipal Development Project (MDP) in Yerevan, Armenia. A whistleblower with access to internal documents about the MDP produced evidence showing that the General Director of the Yerevan Water and Sewerage Company (YWSC) in the capital and the international representative of the Italian company contracted to manage and modernize the YWSC were the same person during the crucial period between 2000 and 2002. As a result of this conflict of interest, project objectives were changed without authorization, substandard materials were used, performance standards were lowered, and works to be completed were never undertaken, among other things. In the end, it appears that the YWSC operator created losses for the water company well in excess of the US$35 million value of the project and that the Armenian government reimbursed the operator for these funds.

    Beginning in March 2007, GAP requested the Department of Institutional Integrity (INT) at the Bank to investigate the allegations and review the documents. After a preliminary review of evidence, INT stated that the allegations were ‘medium’ priority, meaning, in effect, that they were not sufficiently serious to warrant a full investigation. To date, it is not clear whether or how this project has been (or is being) investigated. In the meantime, GAP, together with the whistleblower, has reviewed the evidence of fraud and is presenting it in a comprehensive report. Our report shows how an international utility operator, without interference from an apparently well-informed World Bank Country Manager, perpetrated a fraud. The corruption documented resulted in a substantial loss of public money, as well as in the deterioration of an essential service to nearly one third of the Armenian population. Adequate water service has yet to be provided and authorities cannot explain how the $35 million in public funds were spent. Click here for the full report .