Parliament Votes to Arrest Tsarukyan

Chairman of the Prosperous Armenia Party Gagik Tsarukyan
Chairman of the Prosperous Armenia Party Gagik Tsarukyan

Chairman of the Prosperous Armenia Party Gagik Tsarukyan

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—The Armenian parliament voted on Tuesday to allow law-enforcement authorities to arrest and prosecute the leader of its largest opposition group, Gagik Tsarukyan, on charges rejected by him as politically motivated.

Addressing the parliament controlled by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step bloc, Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian alleged that Tsarukyan “created and led an organized group” that bought more than 17,000 votes for his Prosperous Armenia Party during parliamentary elections held in April 2017. Davtian said the NSS has collected documents and testimony showing that the vote bribes were handed out to residents of the Gegharkunik province.

Tsarukyan and other Prosperous Armenia Party lawmakers vehemently denied the accusations when they spoke on the parliament floor before the first vote. They said that law-enforcement authorities have not produced any evidence of his involvement in the alleged vote buying.

They again claimed that Pashinyan ordered the criminal proceedings in response to Tsarukyan’s demands for the entire Armenian government’s resignation voiced on June 5.
Tsarukyan stood by his claims that the government has failed to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus in the country and tackle severe socioeconomic consequences of the deadly epidemic.

“The end of your revolution has come,” Tsarukyan declared, referring to the 2018 protest movement that brought Pashinyan to power.

“Eighty or ninety percent of the people believed in you and the revolution,” he said. “But today even 5 percent do not believe.”

The Prosperous Armenia Party leader also said that he is undaunted by the prospect of his imprisonment and will “go to the end” in challenging the authorities. He claimed that with their “fabricated” criminal case they are only “making a hero” out of him.

“This is temporary, [it will last for] only one or two months, not longer,” he added in his angry speech. “You must understand this before it’s too late. You are standing on the brink of an abyss.”

“Tsarukyan and our party represent a considerable part of the people,” said Arman Abovyan, a senior Prosperous Armenia Party deputy. “You are at war with the people.”

Immediately after finishing his speech and leaving the parliament building, Tsarukyan was surrounded by NSS officers and taken to the NSS headquarters for further questioning. Prosperous Armenia Party representatives said that the security service illegally detained him before securing the parliament’s consent. Parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan insisted, however, that Tsarukyan was not detained.

The Bright Armenia Party, the other opposition force represented in the parliament, also said that the accusations of vote buying are politically motivated. Its leader, Edmon Marukyan, dismissed as hypocritical Pashinyan allies’ harsh criticism of Tsarukyan voiced since June 5.

Marukyan argued that Pashinyan repeatedly cut political deals with Tsarukyan following the 2018 “Velvet Revolution.” “You are not honest and sincere,” he said, referring to the ruling bloc.
In his concluding remarks, Davtian insisted that the criminal case against the opposition leader and wealthy businessman is a “purely legal process.” The chief prosecutor said the NSS opened the case in February, more than three months before Tsarukyan lambasted the government in unusually strong terms.

Leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority also denied any political motives behind the crackdown. Mirzoyan said the opposition must not “politicize the legal process.”
“Everyone is equal before the law regardless of whether or not they lead a political party,” said the speaker close to Pashinyan.

Both parliamentary opposition forces decided to boycott the ensuing separate votes on lifting Tsarukyan’s immunity from prosecution and allowing his arrest. “We will not participate in this farce,” said Marukyan.

As a result, only 87 of the 132 deputies of the National Assembly voted in the secret ballot. They all backed the prosecutor’s demands.

Pashinyan’s My Step controls 88 parliament seats. Two of its deputies were absent from Tuesday’s session, suggesting that Tsarukyan’s prosecution was unanimously backed by the 86 other pro-government lawmakers.

The Prosperous Armenia Party holds 26 seats, having finished second in the last general elections held in December 2018.

As the parliament began debating the matter in the morning the NSS announced that it launched on Monday a separate investigation into other instances of alleged vote buying by the Prosperous Armenia Party.

In a statement, the security service said that a senior Prosperous Armenia Party figure, Naira Zohrabyan, has repeatedly admitted in her private conversations that Tsarukyan’s party had paid Armenians to vote for it in various elections. The statement contained a relevant quote attributed to Zohrabyan. It did not specify whether the NSS eavesdropped on the opposition politician’s conversations.

Zohrabyan angrily denied these allegations. She suggested that her phones were illegally tapped by the NSS.

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10 Comments

  1. Zareh Sahakian said:

    Any doubt this illiterate “Trump” of Armenia is a corrupt oligarch who now wants to “remove” PM Pashinyan from office? Imagine, Pashinyan, a prime minister who was overwhelmingly elected with a crushing majority in a fair and clean elections, is supposed to resign because of the demands of Tsarukyan, an unprincipled toy of the old thuggish corrupt regime of HHK…….and our ARF goes along with it.
    What a joke!

  2. A shot said:

    Gago also said: Tsavet tanem aziz jan at the end of all he s sentences

  3. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    Finally one of the greatest corruptors is implicated in the penal for the immunity lift, it is a relief. This individual, band leader is supported by his corrupt members to dare to say that they have never corrupted citizens to the point or they are the 2nd force of parliament … harmful at the national level. The worst thing for our Party is that the famous “Supreme Council” have pacted with this band, also practicing electoral corruption. But our famous “Supreme Council” was not rich and it was ejected from the national political arena. Moreover, that he was unable to bring any results in favor of the people, our saint “mechag Panvor” with key ministerial posts, Education, Health, Agriculture, Environment, and he dares to ask … with this band leader, the government’s resignation? By grace, sweep, in one way or another this “Supreme Council” come to the country with real programs realizable following the example of our 1st Government of the 1st Republic, and you can display, and only, in the background, our 3 founding members or the emblem of our Party that will grow ENFIN, outside the speeches of the feast. My point of view

  4. Craig said:

    This is where everything can go wrong for Armenia. This is where the corrupt powers of organized crime that have been strangling the nation all these years will try to bring us back to the dark ages with it’s mafia mentality. Armenia can’t afford that.

  5. Serop said:

    This thug whose only claim to fame is having won an arm wrestling competition is one of the worst kind of criminals who have raped our nation. He and his criminal clan have illegally enriched themselves to the tune of $500 Million USD and more
    Strip him of immunity , confiscate his ill gotten wealth and use it to strengthen our military & security

  6. Barséghian Ardachèce said:

    During the first 30 years, the country’s famous “Supreme Council”, following the implosion of the Soviet system, was NEVER able to define a political strategy in the service of the entire nation, a single programme for the benefit of the citizens, except to pollute itself by running after each so-called “Party” including this Don Vito adopting his illegal practices at the time of the elections and others, with its activists in almost every village, without any national culture except to hope, with their militant card distributed at all winds, find on their way this diaspora full of emotion and dream, in order to make some profits. I was a victim, after having carried out a successful and referenced pilot agricultural programme by the French and European institutions at the same time organizing political events, United Nations, Europe, French institutions, in the four corners of France in the various fields, Sante, Agriculture, as at The European level so that they can understand and collect a teaching applicable to the Country. , without omitting meetings with armenian communities. On the way back, these scientists, these academics, these politicians, these farmers considered this mission, more than a month as, no more and no less, a wonderful tourist opportunity. Better activities, with their experimental station, materials, machinisms … more than a million dollars were reduced by a political legal maneuver, attested by a judicial decision. But I’ve been in the country for 29 years, and I tell you that our country, after 30 years so-called “independence” is bogged down in a real danger economically, socially, culturally, politically and civilly, by the herite pretentions and behaviors of the Soviet past and therefore unable by incompetence to define and realize the slightest structural reform, to consider themselves the only real Armenians to be able to assume this heavy national and social revolutionary burden. Yes, Mr. Harut Sassounian, emerite servant of the Armenian cause at national and international level, insists on the need to create a political body representative of the diaspora through elections organized with each community centre in order to become an instrument capable of reflecting, analyzing and proposing to the rulers of the country. To conclude there are personalities in the Land of high competences and national morality, capable of creating this link in the service of the country, they are royally ignored with dedain.

  7. Ronald S Tounian said:

    I am just shocked to see how a country and its constituents can be SO SO SO unbelievably corrupt to let Levons, Roberts, Serges, and Dodis NOT to pay any taxes, and to deplete the (poor) country to true poverty with NO natural resources, NO jobs, NO taxes to be collected, and NO..NO…NO……. They take Robert to jail and he posts a $4 million BOND. The ruthless and corrupt JUDGES never ask “where did you get this money from??????. Your salary as a president was only a few thousand.” All those guys are walking free in Armenia. Can someone PLEASE put all of those guys in jail for the remainder of their UGLY lives. We have LOST a generation of our precious sons and daughters. ALL those guys are FULLY responsible for the lives of EVERY Armenian that was killed in the past two months. ALL those guys are FULLY responsible for the poverty and HUNGER that predominates most if not ALL of Armenia. A fish rots from the head down. Now Armenia is a fish with a new head. We must ALL unite to help Armenia get a healthy body. Please stop being so unfaithful and corrupt. Please be genuinely faithful to Armenia and then expect Armenia to be faithful to you. Remember words of John F Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. In closing, please take a look at Armenia’s neighbors, you got it, we are surrounded with a bunch of BARBARIANS and SAVAGES that DO NOT recognize borders. They are SAVAGES and FANATICS that HAVE and WILL annihilate Armenians for being Armenians and Christians.

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