ARF Leader Urges Prime Minister to Launch Probe Into Corruption Claim
YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Law enforcement authorities should look into Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan’s allegations about the embezzlement of budgetary funds allocated for government officials’ travel expenses, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation said on Wednesday.
Karapetyan angrily denounced the “primitive theft” last week as his cabinet approved a new electronic system for the purchase of air tickets for officials travelling abroad on business. But he did not implicate any government agency or official in the alleged practice. Nor did law-enforcement bodies launch criminal proceedings in connection with his claim.
“I think that [the statement] should certainly be followed by concrete actions,” said ARF’s Armen Rustamian. “If the prime minister spoke about theft, he has all the levers and resources to dig deeper and substantiate that statement.”
“This must become the subject of a criminal case,” Rustamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
None of the ARF ministers has publicly called for a criminal investigation into Karapetian’s claim.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesman for ruling Republican Party of Armenia, was reluctant to comment on the lack of such an inquiry. “I’m the spokesman for the Republican Party of Armenia, not the prime minister,” he said.
Sharmazanov also claimed that Karapetyan talked about a “general philosophy,” rather than concrete cases of government corruption.
Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian likewise said on Monday that the premier merely condemned the failure of various government agencies to properly perform their duties. Under Armenian law, that is not sufficient grounds for prosecuting government officials, she said.