Zaruhi Postanjian, an outspoken Armenian lawyer and opposition parliamentarian, accused the Armenian authorities on Monday of trying to intimidate her after state prosecutors launched criminal proceedings against her brother.
In a statement posted on its website late Friday, the Office of the Prosecutor-General claimed that Tigran Postanjian, who works for the local government of Yerevan’s Arabkir district, was paid 100,000 drams ($275) for turning a blind eye to illegal construction done by an unnamed local resident.
The statement said Postanjian received the “illegal payment” last September, but gave no further details. Nor did it specify when the criminal case against him was opened by prosecutors.
Tigran Postanjian was quick to rebut the accusations and link them with his prominent sister’s political activities. He said law-enforcement authorities did not even question him before bringing up the case. He claimed that its real purpose is to “persecute” Zaruhi Postanjian.
Zaruhi Postanjian, who is a senior member of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, likewise denounced the case as baseless and politically motivated on Monday. “This is a coordinated attack against me, Zharangutyun and the whole defiant public,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“If something did happen six months ago, why are they bringing it up now?” she asked.
Fellow Zharangutyun lawmakers backed Postanjian at a joint news conference. “This is a new government campaign targeting individuals active in the political arena,” one of them, Larisa Alaverdian said.
Postanjian, 39, rose to prominence as a trial attorney before being elected to the Armenian parliament on the Zharangutyun ticket in 2007. She has been a bitter critic of the Armenian authorities’ human rights record.
Postanjian’s brother, meanwhile, said on Monday that he will lodge a civil lawsuit against prosecutors. His lawyer, Hayk Alumian, accused them of violating his client’s presumption of innocence in their statement.
“There is no violation of the presumption of innocence there because [the statement] doesn’t say for certain whether he is guilty or not,” insisted Shahen Tonoyan, a spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor-General.