One in two Armenians thinks that corruption in their country has become more widespread in the past three years despite stated government efforts to combat it, according to a new opinion poll commissioned by Transparency International and released on Thursday.
The poll, which was conducted across Armenia by Gallup this summer, shows that only 15 percent of respondents feel that the scale of corrupt practices within various state institutions has actually decreased since 2007. Accordingly, only 27 percent praised the anti-corruption measures taken by the Armenian authorities so far.
The public mood reported by the pollsters is in tune with Armenia’s performance in global surveys conducted by Transparency International on an annual basis. It ranked 123rd out of 178 countries surveyed in the Berlin-based watchdog’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), down from 99th place it held in 2007.
Transparency International’s Armenian affiliate, the Anti-Corruption Center (ACC), has dismissed the official corruption-related statistics, however. Its executive director, Varuzhan Hoktanian, insisted on Thursday high-ranking Armenian officials are still rarely prosecuted on corruption charges.
Presenting the findings of the opinion poll, Hoktanian stood by the ACC’s view that the root cause of the problem is “the fusion of politics and business and the monopolization of both areas.” “When that monopolization reaches enormous levels, the system simply can not survive without corruption,” he said. “That is, if you try to eliminate corruption, the system will crumble.”
Hoktanian added that the conduct of genuinely democratic elections is critical for reforming that system. “We haven’t had a single case of government change through elections,” he told a news conference. “It’s a bit hard to believe that our people always support the incumbent authority.”

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