First, it happened in the northwestern city of Gyumri. Then, in the southern region of Syunik. Within the space of seven months, the Armenian government has accepted the resignations of two powerful regional chieftains with long-held track records for alleged violence. But do these departures signal a real intention to hold public officials, including political allies, accountable for their actions?
Critics long have charged that political power in Armenia’s regions often can mean a warrant to behave more like a mafia godfather than a public servant. Media reports of corruption, bribery and indiscriminate use of violence run rife.
But now, with recollections of this year’s protests in mind, President Serzh Sargsyan, who appoints all ten of the country’s governors, has pledged to hold miscreant officeholders to account. “We will be the first to condemn the faults and speak about theft and crimes . . . since this is the price we have to pay to appear on the right path,” he declared on June 29.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.