YEREVAN—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Friday said that he is stunned and shocked over the revelations about the level of corruption in Armenia as various cases continue to unfold across Armenia.
Pashinyan was referencing recent reports by Armenia’s National Security Service that include widespread embezzlement of funds from members affiliated with the previous regime, including allegation of grand theft, tax evasion, attempted murder, some of which have been waged against relatives of former president Serzh Sarkisian.
“I am simply stunned over the information I have received,” Pashinyan told a press conference Friday. “Today I am shocked over the levels of corruption in Armenia.”
Friday’s press conference that lasted more than two and a half hours covered a wide-range of topics, including the Karabakh conflict resolution process and Pashinyan’s reiteration of his assertion that a resolution to the conflict cannot be reached without the participation of Artsakh in the talks.
“This [the level of corruption] is simply unimaginable,” he said. “My harshest speech about corruption ridiculously pales in comparison to the sheer volume of [corruption] which has taken place in Armenia, and is taking place. This is absolutely terrible,” Pashinyan said, adding that since he took office on May 8, he continues being surprised and stunned from the daily reports he receives on the matter.
Pashinyan predicted that such surprising revelation will continue to pour in for another four months, saying that he refuses to believe some of the allegations until concrete evidence is presented to him and new information trickles in.
He claimed that during a recent briefing on corruption cases he was forced to ask officials to stop giving him information. “I’m not ready,” he said “to receive so much information in one day and I want to preserve my mental well-being.”
Pashinyan, whose campaign against his predecessor hinged on promises to fight corruption by the previous regimes, said that while he was well-aware of the lawlessness, he just did not imagine the extent to which some had gone to enrich themselves.
“Imagine a country where the Prime Minister is being shocked every day. It is the same Prime Minister who has constantly called out during his political and journalistic career that the country is being plundered, that there is corruption, lawlessness,” said Pashinyan.
He said until being presented with the evidence he refused “to believe that people can be obscene to such a degree and in sectors where one would not have imagined,” he added.