The United States expressed serious concern on Tuesday about the Armenian authorities’ controversial criminal case against former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, saying that political considerations might be behind it.
“We have been following the legal case against former Foreign Minister Oskanian carefully and are very concerned by recent developments,” the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said in a statement.
“We hope that this case does not represent a politically motivated and selective enforcement of Armenian law, as this would detract from efforts to promote greater transparency and reform in the legal, justice and legislative sectors in Armenia,” warned the statement.
The statement was issued just hours after the Armenian parliament allowed the National Security Service (NSS) to press charges the former minister highly critical of the government.
U.S. Ambassador John Heffern already voiced similar concerns in June shortly after the NSS first accused Oskanian of money laundering. “The fact that this would happen at this time in the political calendar is troubling,” Heffern told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) at the time. “We are very interested in the case and we are following it very carefully,” he said.
Heffern was among Yerevan-based Western diplomats who met with Oskanian, a former U.S. citizen, at his Civilitas Foundation think-tank on Friday.
The meeting took place the day after Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian asked the National Assembly to lift Oskanian’s immunity from prosecution. Oskanian said afterwards that he gave them documents proving his innocence.