Corruption a major problem in Armenia, public opinion poll says

By Mark Dovich

Four years after the Velvet Revolution, fueled in part by widespread frustration with perceived government corruption in Armenia, many Armenians still say corruption is a major problem in the country.

That is according to new numbers from the Caucasus Research Resource Center. From last October to November, the organization conducted a major public opinion survey, interviewing a representative sample of over 1,500 Armenians.

Strikingly, the majority of respondents said seven forms of corruption — ranging from nepotism and conflicts of interest to bribe-taking and money laundering — remain “common” in Armenia.

Many Armenians continue to see corruption in a wide variety of institutions, with over half of those polled saying 14 out of 24 key bodies were “corrupt to a great extent” or “corrupt to some extent.”

The bodies perceived to be most corrupt were the media (about 70%), the judicial system (67%), and political parties (65%).

Only one out of 24 institutions was considered “not corrupt at all” by the majority of respondents: the Human Rights Defender’s office.

Though respondents overwhelmingly said corruption remains a problem, fewer of them said corruption personally affects them: About 59% said the impact of corruption on them and their communities was “rather little” or “insignificant,” while 37% said the impact was “rather big” or “very big.”

Women, younger people, people with higher levels of education or income, and residents of Yerevan were all more likely to answer that corruption impacted them personally.
The proportion of respondents saying that corruption had a “very big” impact rose by about 6 points since a previous CRRC corruption survey from 2019, one year after the Velvet Revolution. The proportion of those answering that corruption had a “rather big” or “insignificant” impact fell by roughly the same amount in that time period.

When asked about factors contributing to corruption in Armenia, respondents pointed to the public’s failure to follow the law, the state’s failure to enforce the law, and flaws in the laws themselves, as well as poverty.

The survey also suggests major messaging issues, both by the Armenian government and by Armenian media outlets, with more respondents saying there were no accurate sources of information about corruption.
Overwhelming majority of those polled supported five anti-corruption initiatives that the Armenian government has floated, even while most people said they were unaware of many anti-corruption efforts that the government has already undertaken.

For instance, about four in five respondents said they would support steps like judicial vetting and creating special anti-corruption courts, while less than one in five knew about the Armenian government’s transparency efforts, like publishing drafts of bills online.

The poll results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.