YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–An Armenian deputy minister of environment protection has been questioned by police in connection with the arrest of two of his high-ranking subordinates charged with bribery, an official said on Wednesday.
Tigran Grigorian, head of the Environment Protection Ministry’s State Ecological Inspectorate, and his deputy Arsen Petrosian were arrested during a police raid on their offices late on Monday. Police investigators said they found there 5 million drams ($13,260) that was allegedly paid to the two men by an unnamed company recently inspected by the agency.
They said Petrosian had demanded the kickback in return for covering up some of the violations of environmental safety rules allegedly committed by the company. They also claimed to have found and confiscated $32,000 in cash in Grigorian’s office.
Initial media reports said that the deputy minister, Simon Papian, was also detained on the spot. A ministry spokesman, Artsrun Pepanian, clarified on Wednesday that Papian was taken to a police station and questioned there “as a witness” before being let go.
“Simon Papian continues to perform his duties,” Pepanian said in a statement.
It is still not clear whether the two arrested officials admit to the accusations. Meeting in closed session on Wednesday, a Yerevan court allowed the police to keep them in pre-trial detention for at least two months.