By Hrach Melkumian
A Communist member of the government in charge of managing Armenia’s natural resources said on Friday he will not resign from his post voluntarily as was allegedly demanded by his superiors. Deputy Minister for State Property Vanya Mkhitarian claimed that he is being forced to quit as part of an official cover-up of what he termed a “relentless plunder of national resources” which costs the country over $50 million annually.
He alleged that an official inquiry into the widespread violations of mining requirements set by the government is in fact being used for “disguising the direct participation of the country’s high-ranking leadership in the abuses.” President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian are aware of the alleged illegalities, he said.
A series of recent inspections conducted by Minister for Industrial Infrastructures David Zadoyan have revealed that dozens of private mining companies across the country are operating without required government licenses. Zadoyan has pledged tougher actions to regulate the sector.
But according to Mkhitarian, the announced crackdown is a public relations stunt aimed at soothing the public. Speaking at a news conference, the deputy minister said his removal was ordered by Minister for State Property David Vartanian at the behest of Markarian.