Five employees of the RA Ministry of Nature Protection’s State Environmental Inspectorate were scheduled to attend a five day study course in Hungary regarding environmental violations.
The Inspectorate sent the list of names to Minister Harutyunyan for approval, after which it was to have been sent to the U.S. Embassy for a final OK. The entire program was financed by the embassy.
The U.S. Embassy informed Hetq that the Embassy proposed an environmental criminal investigation training for Armenian officials from the Ministry of Nature Protection, and this would have been one the many exchange programs between the U.S. Government and Armenian law enforcement bodies.
According to the list drawn up by the Inspectorate, the five employees selected to travel to Hungary were Inspectorate Deputy Chief Igor Sargsyan; Biodiversity, Land, Wastes and Hazardous Substances Management Division Chief Hovhannes Hunanyan; Vayots Dzor Territorial Department Chief Vahik Grigoryan; Forestry Supervision Division Temporary Head Vardan Asatryan; and Biodiversity, Land, Wastes and Hazardous Substances Management Division employee Artur Beglaryan.
A Hetq source at the Ministry said that Minister Harutynyan made two changes to the list, removing Igor Sargsyan and Vahik Grigoryan, replacing them with two of “his own people”.
One was Armen Lablajyan, a brother of the Minister’s personal chauffeur and the Chief of the Lori Territorial Department.
The other replacement was Samvel Shahgaldyan, Chief of the Inspectorate’s Yerevan Division. He’s also the brother of Kotayk Regional Administrator Kavalenko Shahgaldyan.
The U.S. Embassy did not approve the participation of these two replacements.
Minister Harutyunyan then declared that if his two replacements couldn’t go to Hungary, no one would go, even though the embassy had already purchased air tickets for the group.
U.S. Embassy Press Secretary Takouhie Jahoukyan told Hetq that the Ministry did not send anyone for this program, advising us to contact the Ministry of the Nature Protection for additional details.
When Hetq asked Minister Harutyunyan why no one was sent to Hungary and why he had made changes to the list of names, we received the following reply from the Ministry’s Chief of Administration Edgar Pirumyan:
“In answer to your inquiry, we wish to inform you that when making such decisions the Ministry follows an internal rules of procedure.”
So what’s the internal procedure Pirumyan refers to and why does it ban Ministry employees from receiving vital training remains a mystery to us.
Pirumyan has failed to answer these questions we posed to him as well.
Perhaps it’s the same “internal procedure” that allowed Minister Harutyunyan to include his wife, Hasmik Abgaryan, on a junket to high level international conclave.
She’s registered as an employee of the “Environmental Project Implementation Unit” State Agency.
But the Ministry cannot hide behind this dubious “internal procedure” in order to avoid answering our questions in the deadline prescribed by Armenian law.
Hetq will be presenting other examples of how the Ministry conveniently uses this mysterious “internal procedure” when the need arises.