An Armenian scientist has handed back a state award granted by President Serzh Sarkisian over four years ago in protest against what he claims is widespread corruption in post-graduate education and research in the country.
Harutiun Karapetian, a senior fellow at the state-funded Research Center for Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, was part of a team of three researchers who received in 2008 the annual presidential prize sponsored by the Boghossian Foundation, a Diaspora Armenian charity. They were also paid an equivalent of $5,000 in recognition of their scientific work.
Karapetian said on Wednesday that he decided to renounce the prize “as an expression of protest against what is happening in our field of science.” “In this field as well as in all other areas of life, cynicism has reached a climax and the whole scientific system and standards have been corrupted,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Karapetian claimed that anyone holding a high-level government position or having strong government connections can now obtain a doctoral degree in Armenia without any scholarly input. “Ministers and governors easily become doctoral candidates,” he said. “They definitely don’t need that, and yet they thereby corrupt science and undermine its prestige.”
The scientist admitted that his decision was timed to coincide with the ongoing presidential election campaign. “What is happening in the country cannot fail to affect science,” he explained.
Sarkisian’s staff and the Armenian Ministry of Science and Education did not immediately react to the allegations.