Armenia’s Earthquake Czar Resigns Ahead of Corruption Trial

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The head of Armenia’s National Service For Seismic Defense, Alvaro Antonian, has stepped down ahead of his trial on embezzlement charges, it emerged on Friday.

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service claimed in late December that Antonian pocketed 3.3 million drams ($9,100) from a French government grant that was used for building several seismic monitoring stations in the southeastern Vayots Dzor province.

The SIS said the grant worth 70,000 euros ($92,500) was provided to the Armenian earthquake-monitoring agency in August 2009 through a non-governmental organization headed by Antonian. He was charged under a Criminal Code clause carrying between four and eight years’ imprisonment but avoided pre-trial arrest.

Antonian strongly denied the accusation at the time, saying vaguely that “personal motives” were behind the launch of criminal proceedings against him. Interviewed by RFE/RL’s Armenian service, he indicated no plans to resign from his post.

According to Emergency Situations Minister Armen Yeritsian, Antonian has been relieved of his duties “in accordance with his own request.” Yeritsian, whose ministry controls the seismic defense agency, reserved judgment on the merits of the criminal case.

The SIS has already sent the case to a court in Vayots Dzor. The court has yet to set a date for the start of the trial.

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3 Comments

  1. Aram said:

    Hopefully this is a part of the “clean up” and not a small fish taking the blame for the big one(s).

  2. Avetis said:

    This is the continuation of Armenia’s long overdue housecleaning. More positive signs that Armenia’s ruling administration is finally getting its act straight. Bravo President Serj Sargsyan!!! From your cementing of Armenia’s crucially important strategic alliance with Russia to your farsighted embracing of our vast diaspora, from attempting to start a dialogue with Turks to establishing better relations with Iranians, you are gradually putting in place the foundations of a powerful nation in the Caucasus. Under your leadership, Armenia’s and Artsakh’s borders have never been more secure and Armenia’s top leadership has never been more professional. Although our self-destructive peasantry will not appreciate all that you have done for our republic, the fact is, in many respects, you are our first real president.

  3. Frank said:

    This is reall funny, every politician in Armenia in their Zegna & Versace suits are strippring the country of everything they can, then they find some unknown charachter that took $9000 and it makes international news.

    I could list a dozen leading polticians from Armenia and they all all make over $5M each a year on top of their ” annual wages”. If this is an example of fighting corruption than its a joke.

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