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New scandal over Armenian Metsamor NPP

15 July 2016 17:31 (UTC+04:00)
New scandal over Armenian Metsamor NPP

By Rashid Shirinov

Armenian civil servants continuously become mired in bribe and embezzlement scandals, raising considerable discontent in public. The latest audit detected that seven Armenian governmental institutions were involved in misappropriations exceeding 300 million drams ($630,000). The last of them is related to the Metsamor nuclear power plant (NPP), where $1.64 of government allocations were misappropriated by the plant’s administration.

The Control Chamber of Armenia conducted inspections on benefits packages to civil servants and public institutions’ workers. Yesterday, the Chairman of the Control Chamber Ishkhan Zakaryan presented the current results -- 60 licensed organizations have been checked, and seven of them came to be involved in abuse of 300 million drams.

Due to these huge violations, Armenian government decided to stop the operation of benefits packages from the next year. However, the epicenter of Armenian bribe and embezzlement is located in the country’s government -- therefore, misappropriation cases do not seem to come to the end after undertaking this action.

As to the Metsamor NPP, the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) found out that the Director General of the Metsamor NPP CJSC H. Markosyan, commercial Director R. Movsesyan, Deputy General Director on financing and economy M. Movsisyan, head of the repair, training and regulation Department, head of procurement Department E. Kazaryan, creating an organized criminal group and using their official position, misappropriated funds in especially large sizes.

NSS announced that the misappropriation amounted to more than 783.5 million drams ($1.64 million), thus inflicting a significant damage to the already deplorable economy of Armenia. Armenian media makes an assumption that the use of the Metsamor NPP will be at least suspended now.

The Metsamor NPP, located in a high-seismic active zone, began to operate in 1976. The license for the exploitation of the station will expire on September 1, 2016. Nevertheless, the Armenian government has made the decision to prolong the date of exploitation of the plant for additional 10 years.

A number of international experts repeatedly urged that due to its deplorable state, the Armenian Metsamor NPP could repeat the fate of Chernobyl NPP, threatening lives of Armenians and citizens of adjacent countries. The possible tragedy will also jeopardize the environmental state of the region. Moreover, its consequences will be felt in Europe and the Middle East.

The danger of Metsamor NPP was also discussed during the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 25th Annual Session, which was held on 1-5 July in Tbilisi. During the discussions, Azerbaijani parliamentarians made certain suggestions to the draft final document, as they proposed an amendment on closure of the old nuclear power plants in the active seismic zones, stating they are potential threat and should be immediately stopped.

Despite the Armenian delegation called on the participants to protest the amendment, the Committee members supported the Azerbaijani parliamentarians, urging to stop the use of the old nuclear power plants.

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Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov

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