Armenian Parliament tightens grip on fish-farming

Leading current and former politicians are exploiting the high value fish business

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Members of Armenia’s Parliament and local Government officials have dived into the fish-farm business in hope of quick profits - as this map reveals.

With a cheap resource in underground water, land available to exploit and connections in Parliament and local Government to secure permits, the fish business has been a key focus for politicians aiming to flirt with enterprise.

The most high profile of these is the President of the National Assembly and the richest MP in Armenia, who are united by the marriage of their children to one another.

However the official record of the extent of their business compared to what seems to be the case on the ground has glaring differences.

The fish farm in the community of Zorak is owned by Armenian National Assembly President Hovik Abrahamyan (a member of the ruling Republican Party) and his in-law relative Gagik Tsaroukyan, an MP and President of the Prosperous Armenia Party, an ‘alternative’ political force.

Although the two men are members of different parties, this has not stopped them getting into bed together for the fish business.

Multi-millionaire Tsaroukyan’s business operations are varied, including beer, cognac, gas stations, a cement factory and stone quarry. He also owns one third of fish farm EcoFish Trade, which sells the fish on the domestic market and exports some quantities to Georgia.

The son of Abrahamyan's brother Henrik, Hovhannes, owns another third. But Abrahamyan himself has no direct ownership, because this is forbidden under Armenian legislation.

Leonard Karapetyan, the company’s director, refused to be interviewed by us.

But a fish farmer at the company, known as Tigran, said that the business covers ten hectares and operates four geysers.

However, according to the Ministry of the Environment’s 2010 directory, EcoFish Trade only has permission for two wells.

DOSSIER: Politics