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Armenia Setting Up New Anti-Corruption Body


Armenia -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian chairs a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, December 3, 2020.

The Armenian government has formally approved a bill calling for the creation of a special law-enforcement agency tasked with investigating corruption cases.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s cabinet sent the bill to the National Assembly on Thursday. The parliament controlled by Pashinian’s My Step bloc is widely expected to pass it.

Mariam Galstian, a senior official at the Armenian Ministry of Justice, said on Friday that the Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) will start operating in the second half of 2021.

The committee will be set up in accordance with the government’s anti-graft strategy and a three-year action plan adopted in October 2019. It will inherit most of its powers from anti-corruption divisions of four Armenian law-enforcement agencies that have long prosecuted corruption-related crimes.

Galstian expressed confidence that the ACC will be in a much better position to combat bribery and other corrupt practices. “If you have several functions at a time you cannot specialize in corruption-related crimes,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Galstian also said that the ACC will recruit not only officers of the anti-graft divisions of the existing law-enforcement bodies but also other specialists. All of them will be selected by a special commission on a competitive basis after undergoing “integrity checks,” she said.

Under the government bill sent to the parliament, the commission would also shortlist two candidates for the post of ACC chairperson. The Armenian prime minister would appoint one of them as head of the new anti-graft agency.

In Galstian’s words, the commission will be made of not only state officials but also civil society members.

Pashinian has repeatedly claimed to have eliminated “systemic corruption” in Armenia since coming to power in May 2018. Law-enforcement authorities have launched dozens of high-profile corruption investigations during his rule.

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