26 February, 2020 21:23

Who Owns Armenia’s Slaughterhouses?

Starting in July, Armenia’s government will require the butcher of livestock to take place only within licensed slaughterhouses. This regulation came into force at the beginning of the year, but was postponed until July after protests by cattle farmers and butchers wanting to retain the right to butcher livestock at their homes or farms. The rallies briefly paralyzed Yerevan in one of the largest outbursts of public discontent since the 2018 pro-democracy revolution.

Armenia's government says that the directive aims to guarantee sanitary and hygienic conditions for cattle slaughter in the country. The cattle farmers, in turn, note that existing laws already mandate checks on animals before the slaughter on private property. They accuse the government of an overreach and imposition of heavy financial burdens on local animal farms that will benefit large slaughterhouses.

However, CivilNet’s recent investigation revealed that many of the country's slaughterhouses are owned either by former government officials or their relatives and affiliates. It suggests that significant vested interests may be behind the government’s new regulations on slaughterhouses. Rushed by a possible slaughterhouse lobbying, the officials embarked on the reform unprepared and without sufficient infrastructure for implementation in place. Eventually, the debacle forced the government not only to postpone the start of the reform but also amended it — officials introduced a new plan for mobile slaughterhouses that can provide services throughout the country, with any company or investor able to enter into the field and thus challenge the existing players.

CivilNet’s investigation on the shadow ownership network behind the country's slaughterhouses reveals the continued influence of former officials with regards to some policy initiatives by the post-revolutionary government of Armenia.

Produced with the support of Russian Language News Exchange.