By Astghik Bedevian
Armenia’s ex-prime minister claims new dictatorship is emerging in the country while authorities are only imitating a democracy-building process.
Hrant Bagratian, who led the government from 1993 to 1996, argues in his new study that proprietors-turned-oligarchs come to power “to curb the development of democracy”.
At the presentation on Thursday Bagratian repeated several times that he based his study only on official statistics and figures posted by the government.
“The total inequality created in the country’s economy over the past 15 years is greater than in European countries that have a history of 300 years and more,” he said.
At the same time Bagratian challenged the officially posted double-digit growth figures for Armenia’s economy. “If it is only 3 percent, why do they say it is 13? And this is in the case when we have Diaspora, when there is Kirk Kerkorian, when the property sold to Russians on account of state debt is regarded as foreign investment,” he charged.
Bagratian says that the abyss between the poor and the rich is growing, while the nation’s wealth continues to be concentrated in the hands of a few dozen families. According to him, while authorities keep boasting of their successful efforts to create new jobs, in reality the number of jobs in the country has dropped from 1.5 million to 1.1 million.
The ex-premier also challenged the efficiency of government where ministers are themselves large business managers in their respective spheres.
“To be a minister means to be a neutral manager,” he said. “It is not a fair government when a minister controls 20 or 30 percent of his sphere or the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank owns a bank.”