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Armenian Deputy Ministers Fired After Charges Of Corruption

Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian has called for the dismissal of two deputy ministers.
Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian has called for the dismissal of two deputy ministers.
YEREVAN -- Two Armenian deputy ministers of health and another senior government official have been dismissed less than a week after Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian accused them of corruption and incompetence, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Sarkisian's office said on November 9 that he relieved Health Ministry officials Tatul Hakobian and Abraham Manukian of their duties "in accordance with their request." Sarkisian's office gave no details.

Sarkisian alleged widespread corruption within the agriculture, finance, education, and health ministries as he discussed the findings of internal inquiries conducted by his Oversight Service at a cabinet meeting on November 4.

He said the government has been receiving "extremely serious complaints about corruption in the health care sphere."

Sarkisian did not elaborate. He said only that Health Minister Harutiun Kushkian should propose ways of remedying the situation and expose top ministry officials who are "involved in those practices or are not sufficiently fighting against them."

The other official who was sacked is Ara Muradian, a Finance Ministry official who has been charged with the implementation of a government plan to provide farmers in Armenian border villages with interest-free loans worth 100 million drams ($275,000).

Sarkisian complained during the meeting that the scheme -- which was launched two years ago -- has still not been put into practice.

Sarkisian also demanded the ousting of Vram Gyulzadian, the head of an Agriculture Ministry department dealing with food safety. Under the law, Gyulzadian is a civil servant and therefore cannot be sacked without the consent of the state Civil Service Council.

"As of now, sanitary inspectorate [head Vram Gyulzadian] is on vacation," Karlen Mikaelian, the chief of the ministry staff, told RFE/RL. "Naturally, we will carry out the prime minister's instruction in a manner defined by the law."

The Agriculture Ministry asked the Civil Service Council to sanction Gyulzadian's sacking in June. "There is no connection between these two issues," insisted Mikaelian. "This is a different violation that has nothing to do with his previous wrongdoing."

Sarkisian has thus far stopped short of demanding criminal proceedings against the officials whom he accused of corruption. Nor have law-enforcement bodies moved to prosecute them.