By Ruzanna Khachatrian
President Robert Kocharian appointed on Thursday a special official charged with advising him on ways of combating endemic corruption in Armenia.
The official, Bagrat Yesayan, headed the staff of the Armenian state Commission on Securities prior to the appointment. The presidential press office did not specify the new adviser’s area of responsibility. But Yesayan told RFE/RL that he will specialize in anti-corruption initiatives that have long been promised by the authorities.
Yesayan is a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a governing party that has rebuked Kocharian in the past for corrupt practices that remain commonplace in various echelons of government. In the wake of the May parliamentary elections, Dashnaktsutyun unsuccessfully pushed for the creation of a special government agency with sweeping powers to identify and investigate instances of graft.
But the idea was not backed by its two coalition partners: the Republican and Orinats Yerkir parties. Kocharian also appeared lukewarm towards it.
The Armenian government headed by Republican leader Andranik Markarian has still not unveiled its comprehensive anti-corruption strategy promised to the World Bank and other international donors. A team of government experts has been working on the document for nearly two years. Government opponents dismiss the effort as a gimmick, saying that many Armenian leaders are themselves mired in corruption.
In another decree, Kocharian relieved Razmik Davoyan, a presidential adviser on culture and human rights, of his duties “at his own request.” Incidentally, Davoyan is also affiliated with Dashnaktsutyun.