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Press Review


“Aravot” laughs off the “money laundering” case brought against Aleksandr Arzumanian and Vahan Shirkhanian. “Any average or below-average finance expert will tell you that the use of the term ‘money laundering’ in this case testifies to the absolute ignorance of certain interested circles,” editorializes the paper. “We are talking about only tens of thousands [of dollars.]”

“Hayots Ashkhar” comments on the affair from a totally different perspective, saying that the two oppositionists are close confidants of the fugitive businessman Levon Markos. The paper says Markos gave them a blank check to use his money for political purposes in Armenia. “Naturally, Arzumanian and Shirkhanian would have appropriated the bulk of Markos’s money,” it speculates. “They might have really transferred some crumbs to the revolution fund so that they could be appropriated by others.”

“Just because an individual undesirable for the regime may be receiving money from abroad is not sufficient grounds for opening a criminal case,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The paper argues that a large part of Armenia’s population receives remittances from Russia and other countries. “According to unofficial estimates, they total more than $2-2.5 billion a year … If we look at Arzumanian’s arrest from an apolitical angle, a considerable part of Armenian citizens getting external remittances is viewed by the National Security Service as potential criminals.”

According to “Zhamanak Yerevan,” Levon Markos is one of those wealthy Diaspora businessmen who have been defrauded by the Armenian government. The paper says Markos had sought a $150 million loan from an unspecified foreign bank to save a now defunct Armenian bank from bankruptcy. “But our government managed to accuse him of attempts at large-scale fraud and launched criminal proceedings against him in 2005,” it says. “Now Levon Markos is on the run. Armenian courts have issued arrest warrants in his name. But since he is a citizen of the Russian Federation, they have failed to bring him to Armenia.” The paper says Markos is “very furious with the developments of the last few days” and plans to issue a statement saying that “he has no connection with the sums found in Aleksandr Arzumanian’s and Vahan Shirkhanian’s homes.”

(Atom Markarian)
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