By Anna Saghabalian
A veteran lawmaker has voiced his concerns that a possible rise in salaries of officials next year might be a perk in exchange for their loyalty and collaboration in the 2007 elections.
“I consider it to be an election pledge of corrupt authorities to officials who should show maximum activity and participation in elections,” Victor Dallakian, a former secretary of the opposition Artarutyun (Justice) alliance, said on Friday, referring to the government’s plans to raise the salaries of officials by nearly 40 percent beginning July 1, 2007.
Dallakian said this increase will require an additional spending of 700 million drams (about $1.8 million) only for the second half of next year.
At a meeting with journalists today, the parliamentary ridiculed Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s description of next year’s budget as magnificent, saying that ‘magnificent’ is not a proper word to describe a financial document. He also compared recent years’ budges and economic growth figures in Armenia and Azerbaijan, finding that the neighboring state’s situation favorably compares in all respects.
Dallakian went on to criticize the Armenian government for its recent deals with Russia, including the handover of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline section, the Fifth Unit of the Hrazdan thermal power plant, as well as Russia’s possible takeover of Armenian railway facilities. He said these dealings reduce Armenia to ‘Russia’s vassal’.
Dallakian neither confirmed nor denied his expected affiliation with Prosperous Armenia, an ambitious party led by wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukian.
Speculations about Dallakian’s move were fueled by his shock defection from the opposition alliance in summer. Further suspicions that the politician may ally himself with some party arose when the parliamentarian three times elected from single-mandate constituencies appeared as a strong proponent of abolishing majority elections when amendments to the Electoral Code were brought up for discussion in parliament last month. But Dallakian’s new affiliation still remains unconfirmed.
The former Artarutyun member promised to the media “to inform about his decision” when the time is due.
According to Dallakian, he has not changed his opposition stance since quitting the bloc, as he still believes that the 2003 elections and last year’s referendum were rigged by the authorities.
He also said he did not consider Prosperous Armenia a pro-government party.
“Both government and opposition are formed as a result of elections. Prosperous Armenia has not participated in any elections as a party yet, it did not have its members in election commissions and therefore could not rig election result. Prosperous Armenia has no ministers in the government. Therefore, it is not a pro-government force, but a new force,” Dallakian said.