Yegparian: Corruption by the Numbers

We hear a lot about corruption, and see various forms of it in our daily lives. Sadly, in some places, such as Armenia, it is present at a disturbing, probably economically disruptive, scale.

Russia and Iran don’t fare well, as you can see in the table, which lists each country’s rank and score by year. But more embarrassing is that Georgia and Turkey both seem 'cleaner”'than the Republic of Armenia.

For the last two decades, Transparency International and Goettingen University have compiled a “Corruption Perception Index,” which is a “poll of polls” as they describe it. They amass others’ studies of corruption in countries throughout the world and produce an annual tabulation of countries with a rating, on a scale of 0-10, where 10 means corruption free and 0 totally corrupt. They require that a minimum of three (formerly four) surveys/studies include a country for it to be included in their index. They have used at least 12 surveys/studies since 1999 (earlier years had fewer). Polling done over the preceding three years is considered valid for inclusion in any year’s compilation. For these reasons, they caution that year-to-year comparisons should not be made easily. But take a look at the accompanying table, and you’ll note that the trends in our homeland and its neighbors are pretty consistent.

Russia and Iran don’t fare well, as you can see in the table, which lists each country’s rank and score by year. But more embarrassing is that Georgia and Turkey both seem “cleaner” than the Republic of Armenia (RoA). This is particularly painful since Georgia started out roughly equal to RoA. Azerbaijan is perceived as more corrupt than Armenia, which is no surprise, given its de facto hereditary monarchic system of government. But even relative to Azerbaijan, RoA is poised for embarrassment since the former has been steadily improving, while the latter, though improving initially, has been getting worse since 2008.

This is not good. It makes people’s lives miserable. It creates an uncertain business climate. It gives our opponents ammunition when diasporans worldwide try to support Armenia through advocacy in the capitals of their host countries. And, while it can’t all be pinned on Serge Sarkissian, at this point, given the timing of the downward trend in “cleanliness” and his 2008 election, much blame can be laid at his feet.

In these celebratory days of RoA’s 20th birthday, we cannot be blinded to the problems that must be solved for the country to truly progress. Perhaps Sarkissian should be reminded of that lofty office’s duty to the people during his visit to the United States this week.

It’s our job not only to support Armenia, but to be the eyes that see and the ears that hear things that our landlocked-homeland-dwelling compatriots are less likely to perceive. It is our moral duty to do so. Let’s not be derelict in helping clean up corruption in Armenia. Raise your voices against this blight. Let Sarkissian know how you feel.


Garen Yegparian

Asbarez Columnist
Garen Yegparian is a fat, bald guy who has too much to say and do for his own good. So, you know he loves mouthing off weekly about anything he damn well pleases to write about that he can remotely tie in to things Armenian. He's got a checkered past: principal of an Armenian school, project manager on a housing development, ANC-WR Executive Director, AYF Field worker (again on the left coast), Operations Director for a telecom startup, and a City of LA employee most recently (in three different departments so far). Plus, he's got delusions of breaking into electoral politics, meanwhile participating in other aspects of it and making sure to stay in trouble. His is a weekly column that appears originally in Asbarez, but has been republished to the Armenian Weekly for many years.

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  1. It is rather sad that the previous commentator restores to a personal attack on Mr. Yegparian. I think Mr. Yeghparian is a brave person who does not hesitate to expose the dangerous trend of corruption in Armenia. As is clearly stipulated in the annual perception report of Transparency International, corruption in Armenia is a serious impediment in building a prosperous and just society. In fact, if you look at the trend of the corruption index, in 2003 Armenia was ranked 78th place out of 133 countries. In the following seven years, the ranking of Armenia has gone down. In 2010 Armenia was 123rd place out of 176 countries. The assessment of
    TI is a true reflection of the reality in Armenia. In fact, the prevalence of
    corruption is so deeply entrenched that nothing can be done without bribing
    public officials. Sadly enough, in Armenia. In my last visit to Armenia, I had
    the pleasure of attending a workshop organizes by the United Nations Human
    Rights Commission and had the opportunity of listening to Amalia Constanyan,
    director of TI Armenia who has unfortunately passed away under mysterious
    circumstances. It was her opinion that Armenia is in a very dangerous path if
    corruption is not mitigated immediately. It was also her opinion that
    corruption could only be mitigated if there was political will by the leaders
    and the government. From other reliable and informed sources, including the
    diplomatic core that resides in Armenia, I was told that the depth of corruption
    in the country starts from the highest ranking public officials all the way
    down to the lower tiers. In fact, the large amount of wealth that is held by
    senior officials in government is a result of corrupt practices. Most of the
    known businesses in Armenia are owned by senior government officials including
    prominent buildings and property including large holdings in foreign countries.
    It is also a known secret that some of the cabinet ministers own large estates
    in different countries. Besides, these high ranking officials have not
    inherited family wealth and are on salary that could only sustain basic requirements
    of life. How sad and selfish this is when the average citizen struggles to put
    basic bread on the table. In the end, it is the average citizen that is most
    affected by corruption. That is why we see such a huge migration of its
    citizens to foreign countries. Under such realities, should we stay quite, or
    worse yet, criticize someone who is brave enough to brings such evil to

  2. Why would we separate Armenia from Russia when 80% of Armenia’s economy is owned by Russia? What the Armenians must be happy about is Armenia ranked better than Russia, not much worse than Turkey and Georgia.
    This will never change as long as Russia owns Armenia.

  3. Well said, we can not live by covering up the criminals. We are as much as guilty if we do that.Yes, we have to put everything in front of everybody’s eye, and to deal with them.

  4. The only reason either Georgia or Turkey are ranked as less corrupt is because they are allied with the West.  These Western funded rankings are not politics free.  Once a pro-Moscow regime assumes power in Tiflis, Georgia will magically go back to being labeled ‘corrupt’.

  5. Ahmet Bey:

    The largest sector owned by Russia is the energy sector of Armenia – at about 50%.
    In other sectors Russia’s ownership is far less.
    The Armenian Brandy industry is largely owned by the French, for example.

    Where is the proof of your claim that  ‘80% of Armenia’s economy is owned by Russia’  ?
    Give us the source: let us check it.

    Even then, what is the problem if Russia owned 80%, 90%, or 100% of Armenia’s economy  ?
    Better Russia than Genocidal and Genocide-Denying Turkey: don’t you agree ?
    Russia has done some bad things to Armenia, but nothing like what the Turkey and its predecessors have done. Ottoman Turks and then CUP exterminated 2 million Armenians 1895-1923, and almost extinguished the Armenian state. Care to comment on the fact that Turks are 100% GUILTY of GENOCIDE,  Ahmet Bey ?

  6. Well said Avery jan….well said…I see that our friend Ahmet oglu has been very active recently don’t you think? I wonder whats gotten into him… he probably missed us so much that he came for some dose of truth.. as he keeps forgetting what his ancestors have done and why Armenians are still going strong despite all the roadblocks.. i know they forget real fast so constants reminders are really good for them..and you have done a great job doing just that Avery jan.. thank you..


    Ahmet Ogrash-ogly, 
    Do you have any estimates of how much of Russian economy is owned by Armenians in exchange for this 50% in Energy sector?  Any comparisons to EU countries Natural Gas monopolies owned by Gazprom?  
    It’s like saying that Russia maintains it’s military base in Armenia when everybody knows that Armenian soldiers who are citizens of Russia serve there. 
    Sorry, buddy, I guess it’s beyond your comprehension.  Over the centuries your nomadic White-sheep Turkic tribes were killing your Black-sheep tribes and vise versa when they were free from killing the native peoples of the lands they occupied.  I’m afraid you would never be able to understand how civilized nations can co-exist. 

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