Simonian’s spokesperson Tsovinar Khachatrian described the approved purchase of a high-class BMW as rational in terms of both security and saving.
“The need for a new car is explained by the need to provide security representation, as well as to save money, as it includes warranty service and maintenance costs,” she explained.
Human rights activist Levon Barseghian, meanwhile, described the move as a “feast during the plague.”
“It is absolutely incomprehensible and criminal in political terms. It is a criminal expense to make in political terms when the country has huge problems to solve,” Barseghian said.
In substantiating the expense, the government said that it was considered urgent, which means it can be purchased from the official dealer – the Euromotors company, which belongs to the family of wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukian.
Most government officials and pro-government lawmakers approached by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service did not either justify or criticize the decision immediately, preferring not to comment on it.
High-Tech Industry Minister Vahagn Khachatrian, however, went along with the explanation of the executive. “The car that has been in service since 2010 would definitely have been worn out during these years and would need to be replaced. It must have been an urgent issue,” he said.
Parliament Speaker Simonian who is currently on an official trip abroad did not immediately comment on the decision of the government either.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian as an oppositionist used to be very critical of large spending on cars for officials. Explanations of former officials for the spending did not differ much from the explanations provided by current authorities.