YEREVAN — Two senior Armenian officials were sacked on Thursday one day after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan witnessed the poor quality of construction financed by his government during a visit to northern Lori province.
Pashinyan inspected several schools and other facilities refurbished in local rural communities during the trip designed to showcase the government’s nationwide infrastructure projects. He was left fuming after noticing many flaws in their design and construction overseen by the Armenian government’s Urban Development Committee and the provincial administration.
Pashinyan seemed particularly upset with what looked like substandard equipment and furniture supplied to a newly renovated school gym in one of the Lori villages.
“To summarize things briefly, I am very, terribly unhappy, and I will not tolerate such a thing,” a government video of the trip showed him telling officials accompanying him.
The government announced the dismissal of the head of the Urban Development Committee, Armen Ghularyan, and Lori Governor Aram Khachatryan as Pashinyan chaired its weekly meeting in Yerevan the following morning.
The premier spent 16 minutes sharing his impressions of what he saw in Lori and complaining about what he called a “deeply entrenched” culture of inadequate government-funded construction in Armenia.
“You touch a [school] hanger and it falls down, water drips everywhere you go, not to mention the fact that for five months I didn’t manage to convince I don’t know whom not to put transparent glass in toilets,” he said.
“We no longer need officials who raise issues, we need officials who solve issues,” added Pashinyan.
Pashinyan pledged to solve this and other problems, blamed by him on government corruption, when he swept to power nearly six years ago. Since the government has eliminated systemic corruption in the country.
Most of the construction projects in Lori inspected by Pashinyan were implemented by a company contracted by the Urban Development Committee. The company called T-Construction could not be reached for comment.
Khachatryan, the sacked provincial governor, is also a senior member of Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that he himself decided to resign right after Pashinyan’s visit.