Together with Romania, Armenia ranks 63th out of 180 countries and territories evaluated in the Berlin-based watchdog’s 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) presented on Tuesday. It occupied 58th place in the previous CPI released a year ago.
The South Caucasus state’s CPI “score,” measured on a 100-point scale, likewise fell from 49 to 46 over the past year. The Armenian government had pledged to have it gradually raised to 55 in its three-year strategy of combatting corruption approved in 2019.
“After years of improvement, this CPI brings worrying signs as Armenia drops three points,” Transparency International said in its latest report. “While not yet statistically significant, this downturn reflects the breakdown in maintaining checks and balances, ensuring integrity in law enforcement, securing judicial independence and protecting civic space.”
Varuzhan Hoktanian, the head of the watchdog’s Armenian branch, said Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s administration has failed to properly implement its anti-corruption strategy. He warned of a further worsening of Armenia’s position in the global corruption rankings.
Hoktanian pointed to “selective” enforcement of Armenian laws and regulations, controversial appointments of senior officials as well as growing questions about integrity in public procurement.
Pashinian has claimed to have eliminated “systemic corruption” since coming to power in 2018. Law-enforcement authorities have launched dozens of high-profile corruption investigations during his rule. They have mostly targeted former top government officials.
Critics say that Pashinian uses corruption inquiries to crack down on his political opponents. They also claim that some members of his entourage are busy enriching themselves or their cronies, notably by helping companies linked to them win government contracts.
Alen Simonian, the Armenian parliament speaker and a leading member of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, is a case in point. A construction company managed by his brother won last year at least nine government tenders for the construction of rural roads.
One of those contracts was worth about 3 billion drams ($7.5 million). A government agency overseeing road construction said the company called Euroasphalt bid just 8,300 drams ($21) less than its closest competitor. The tiny margin of its victory in the tender raised suspicions that Euroasphalt had illegally received insider information about the other bids.
The Armenian government has also signed many lucrative deals with companies linked to other senior officials, including a deputy chief of Pashinian’s staff.
Pashinian was asked about the apparent enrichment of the extended families of Simonian and his other political allies during a recent news conference. He insisted that it does testify to government corruption.
Armenian law allows the government not to put contracts for the delivery of goods or services out to competitive tender in some cases. The number of such government decisions has reportedly increased in recent years, prompting concerns from opposition figures and civil society activists.