Ararat Mirzoyan
Ararat Mirzoyan

Parliament Panel To Probe Government’s Response To COVID-19

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The pro-government majority in the National Assembly has given the green light to a parliamentary inquiry into the Armenian government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic demanded by the opposition.

The two parliamentary opposition parties, Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Bright Armenia (LHK), called for an inquiry in June as they accused the government of mishandling the coronavirus crisis.

Senior lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step bloc initially opposed the move, defending the authorities’ response to the pandemic. But they reluctantly agreed afterwards to the creation of an ad hoc parliamentary commission tasked with assessing the effectiveness of government efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Arkadi Khachatryan, a senior LHK parliamentarian, announced late on Thursday, January 14, that parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan has formally approved the commission’s composition and thus paved the way for the start of its activities.

“The date and time of the first meeting of the investigative commission will be announced in the coming days,” Khachatryan wrote on Facebook.

Although the commission will be headed by Khachatryan, eight of its twelve members have been appointed by My Step. Khachatryan expressed hope that its findings will be “objective and comprehensive” and will answer all “questions preoccupying the public.”

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Armenia has been hit hard by the pandemic, with nearly 164,000 coronavirus cases officially confirmed in the country of about 3 million so far. The real number of cases is believed to be much higher.

The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Friday, January 15, that 11 more people had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 2,974. The figure does not include the deaths of 726 other Armenians infected with the virus. According to the ministry, they were primarily caused by other diseases.

The authorities largely stopped fining people and businesses to enforce their anti-epidemic rules following the September 27 outbreak of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The daily number of new COVID-19 infections reported by them grew rapidly as a result. But it has fallen significantly since mid-November.

 

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