While institutionalized corruption has become an unfortunate norm in post-Soviet Armenia, some flagrant cases of abuse of power can still be shocking. Consider this: the chief of the Ministry of Nature Protection is buidling himself a summer house in an area that he recently delisted from the national preservation list.

According to Hetq:

“A few months ago, when the Armenian government was debating the permissible amounts of water that could be drawn from Lake Sevan, the press was full of reports that the agreed upon 360 million cubic meters of water to be extracted wasn’t needed for agricultural irrigation usage but rather to save the numerous property sites of government officials from the rising lake’s waters.

At the time, government officials and National Assembly Deputies labeled such allegations as ridiculous and without merit.

The private house pictured here on the shore of Lake Sevan, with its numerous annexes, belongs to Aram Harutyunyan, the Minister of Nature Protection. (The photo depicts only a portion of the private compound). Construction on the house began this year and renovation work is still continuing. The house is located on the road that leads from the village of Shorzha to the Artanish Nature Preserve, a few meters removed from the shoreline. Sources close to “Hetq” claim that one year ago the house site was a part of the Artanish Preserve lands and that it was detached from the Preserve’s boundaries after a decision passed by the government. “

“Yes we can do anything we want” is not a new slogan in Armenian politics. Just last month, news broke that the now-speaker of the Parliament was building a hotel complex in another natural reserve.