Recently, an article was published by one of the media outlets, accusing Anna Hakobyan of traveling to Switzerland at the expense of the government, and luxury spending and concealing it from the public. However, let us try to figure out where and how this story began, and how much Anna Hakobyan’s trip cost to the state budget.
How it all began
On January 20, the Armenian delegation headed by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan left for Switzerland to attend the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. At the same time, the media began to circulate a hypothesis that Prime Minister’s wife Anna Hakobyan also left for Switzerland, not being member of the Armenian delegation. Referring to anonymous sources, one of the media outlets assessed the cost of Anna Hakobyan’s trip at 8 million AMD.
The development of the story
The journalist from the aforementioned media outlet tried to verify the information with Anna Hakobyan’s spokesperson. The latter replied that she was not aware of the details but can assure that Anna Hakobyan did not go to Davos. Mrs. Hakobyan’s spokesperson also advised to clarify the details with the government.
Anna Hakobyan also touched upon the issue at her press conference, noting that though she had an invitation to participate in the forum and even visited Davos, she did not take part in the event due to some circumstances.
After the apparent contradiction between Mrs. Hakobyan’s and her spokesperson’s statements, the above-mentioned news agency conducted a rather extensive investigation, as a result of which it became clear that Nikol Pashinyan and Anna Hakobyan had left for Switzerland on the same plane and stayed at Savoy Hotel Baur en Ville.
It should be noted that apart from the differences between Anna Hakobyan’s and her spokesperson’s statements regarding the trip to Switzerland, there is another problematic aspect. In particular, the 47-A Decree of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, dated January 17, 2019, names the members of the Armenian delegation at the Davos Economic Forum, and Anna Hakobyan’s name is not mentioned there.
As for the aforementioned publication, the author of the article insists that Prime Minister’s wife’s trip was at the expense of the taxpayers. This, however, does not correspond to the reality, and below we will explain why.
Let’s try to understand how much Anna Hakobyan’s trip to Zurich cost.
Since Anna Hakobyan left on the same plane with the official delegation, it can be argued that there were no additional travel costs. The same principle refers to the journalists who are ready to cover their accommodation expenses (except for a few TV reporters whose expenses are fully covered by the state).
Anna Hakobyan was not a member of the delegation, and, therefore, she was not provided with the daily allowance that is allocated to the members of the delegation. And in this respect, Anna Hakobyan was not a burden for the taxpayers.
Anna Hakobyan stayed at the same hotel room as Nikol Pashinyan. We tried to find out how much the room prime minister and his wife stayed in cost through an online hotel booking system. For reservation, we selected the period from March 1 to March 4. We searched for price options for both one person and two persons.
It turned out that in both cases, the price of the hotel room was the same, namely, 4051 USD.
Thus, we can conclude that the assertion by the journalist that Anna Hakobyan’s trip to Switzerland was a waste of state budget funds is a manipulation, to say the least.