By Shakeh Avoyan and Anush Dashtents
President Robert Kocharian lived on about $500 a month, while Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, who is believed to have extensive business interests, earned only a monthly wage of $250 last year, according income declarations they filed last January.
The income and property statements were for the first time filed by some 3,000 senior government officials and their family members in accordance with the Armenian law on financial disclosure adopted last year. They were made available to RFE/RL by the government on Tuesday.
The official data collected and tabulated by the ministry for state revenues show Kocharian putting the total amount of his personal revenues in 2001 at 3.2 million drams ($5,700) -- lower than about $7,000 in annual incomes declared by his 21-year-old older son, Sedrak. The latter has been an undergraduate student at Yerevan State University since 1998 and has apparently combined his studies with work. But his place of work is not known.
A house with the total area of 148 square meters is the president’s sole declared private property. Its location and date of construction is not specified in the official documents. Kocharian’s wife, Bella, posted zero revenues and disclosed ownership of a 56 square-meter apartment.
Sarkisian, who is Kocharian’s closest associate, declared one of the lowest annual incomes among Armenian government ministers: 1.68 million drams ($3,000). One of Armenia’s most powerful men, Sarkisian reportedly controls some lucrative sectors of the Armenian economy. For example, Armenian companies engaged in wholesale imports of fuel are widely believed to be closely linked to him.
However, Sarkisian claimed to have no sources of income except his ministerial salary and to own only an apartment and a 10-year-old Japanese car.
Another influential official reportedly involved in business, National Security Minister Karlos Petrosian, likewise claimed to have earned only 3.4 million drams in salaries and bonuses. The financial statements show that his recently built expensive villa in Yerevan is formally owned by his wife. The Yerevan daily “Aravot” implicitly accused Petrosian of corruption last April when it printed a color picture of the house on its front page.
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, for his part, put his annual income at 2.47 million drams which was worth about $4,500 last year. His unemployed wife disclosed $10,000 in hard-currency revenues.
It is not clear where they came from as the government data do not specify sources of non-employment incomes. The largest amount of such incomes -- $100,000 -- was posted by the wife of Agriculture Minister David Zadoyan. She, too, has no permanent job, while owning an apartment. Zadoyan himself claims to have no real property or cars.
The income declaration filed by Transport and Communications Minister Andranik Manukian, who is also a leading Armenian businessman, reveals $65,000 in total revenues. Manukian, who owns the country’s largest car dealership and opened a four-star hotel in Yerevan last year, said he has only a small apartment and an expensive German car.
The law on financial disclosure was designed to make it harder for corrupt officials to hide their real earnings. However, the information contained in the country’s first-ever income and property declarations is likely to disappoint those who hoped the legislation will become an effective anti-corruption tool.
The financial statements filed by some members of the Armenian parliament with the tax authorities will only reinforce the skepticism. Many wealthy businessmen sitting on the assembly declared modest revenues and little property.
Khachatur Sukiasian, a parliament deputy and one of the country’s richest persons, posted only 21 million drams worth of personal income. Sukiasian, who is known to have a collection of luxury limousines, claimed to own no cars at all.
Another wealthy parliamentarian, Harutiun Pambukian, claimed to have earned merely 2.2 million drams last year.