A parliament deputy representing the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), President Serzh Sarkisian’s junior coalition partner, denounced on Wednesday a government proposal to encourage Armenians to report instances of corruption known to them.
Andranik Karapetian claimed that this kind of whistleblowing runs counter to Armenian values and traditions. “European values are not always compatible with Armenian values,” he said.
The proposal is part of a package of anti-corruption government bills which the recently elected National Assembly began debating on Wednesday. They call for the creation of a new body tasked with preventing and exposing corrupt practices among various state officials. The body would scrutinize their asset and income declarations with the aim of detecting their possible illegal self-enrichment.
The government also wants the anti-graft commission to put in place an online platform for anonymous corruption reports from citizens, including those employed by government, law-enforcement and judicial bodies. The five commission members to be appointed by the parliament would have to look into those allegations.
“The institution of whistleblowers does not befit us, Armenians,” declared Karapetian. “When I was reading this bill yesterday the first thing that crossed my mind was that is an institution of, to use the popular language, ratting on others.”
The 34-year-old lawmaker claimed that the practice would not only contradict his idea of “Armenianness” but also spread mistrust between co-workers in the country. “Let us rat on each other,” he said. “Let us go to work and not dare to look each other in the eyes, suspecting that we could rat on each other.”
The remarks were criticized by Mane Tandilian, a deputy from the opposition Yelk alliance. “I believe that on the contrary it is un-Armenian to speak of people who can be whistleblowers in the fight against corruption as informers and to claim that this is un-Armenian,” she said.
It was not immediately clear whether Karapetian’s view reflects the Dashnaktsutyun leadership’s position. The party holds 7 seats in the 105-member parliament and is represented in the government by three ministers.