By Astghik Bedevian
President Robert Kocharian’s special anti-corruption adviser, Bagrat Yesayan, was relieved of his duties and appointed deputy minister of education on Friday.
The promotion which seems to be part of be a minor government reshuffle resulting from the Orinats Yerkir party’s removal from the ruling coalition. Sergo Yeritsian, a former Orinats Yerkir leader who has headed the Armenian Ministry of Science and Education for nearly three years, was replaced on Wednesday by Levon Mkrtchian, a leading member of one of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), one of the two remaining governing parties.
Yesayan, who is also affiliated with Dashnaktsutyun, confirmed that his latest appointment was initiated by the nationalist party’s leadership which he said believes that he has successfully accomplished his mission in the presidential staff. “We have achieved all the objectives that were possible to achieve in these conditions,” he told RFE/RL. “Achieving more under this model of a fight against corruption was impossible.”
Government sources told RFE/RL that Kocharian will name another presidential aide to take the vacant post created in September 2003, shortly before his government unveiled a plan of mainly legislative measures aimed at combating endemic corruption. As well as advising Kocharian on the matter, Yesayan has headed a “monitoring commission” within a high-level body formed by Markarian to oversee implementation of the program.
Yesayan has insisted throughout his tenure that the stated anti-corruption drive is making a difference. He has also said that corruption in Armenia is not as rampant as it is often portrayed by non-governmental organizations, notably the local affiliate of Transparency International.
Armenia ranked 88th out of 146 nations that were covered by the Berlin-based watchdog’s 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The previous survey, released a year ago, put it in 82nd place.
Yesayan cast doubt on the credibility of the rankings last November, famously comparing corruption with love which he said is “impossible to measure.” Transparency International’s director for Europe and Central Asia, Miklos Marschall, scoffed at the remark, insisting in a letter to Yesayan that the situation with corruption in Armenia “does not seem to be improving.”
(Photolur photo: Bagrat Yesayan.)