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Sargsyan’s Brother Questioned Over Son’s Alleged Crime, Released


Armenia -- Aleksandr Sarkisian, brother of former President Serzh Sarkisian, while being detained by the National Security Service, Yerevan, 04Jul2018

Aleksandr Sargsyan, a controversial brother of Armenia’s former President Serzh Sargsyan, who was detained by Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) on Wednesday, was released later that night after being questioned by investigators, a spokesperson for the NSS said today.

Sargsyan was taken to the NSS following a search of his apartment in Yerevan that lasted for nine hours on Wednesday. Meanwhile, his son Hayk Sargsyan was detained by the Investigative Committee that later said he became a suspect in a reopened 2007 criminal case concerning attempted murder.

The NSS for its part said in its statement today that Aleksandr Sargsyan was questioned over his other son Narek Sargsyan’s alleged crime in obtaining more than a dozen drawings of famous Armenian artist Martiros Sarian by deception. The total price of the drawings is estimated at $280,000.

“During the search Aleksandr Sargsyan said that the paintings were ostensibly bought by him. At the NSS Investigative Department he was interrogated on the circumstances of the deal. In addition, he was interrogated in the presence of the person who filed the claim and that person again insisted that Narek Sargsyan obtained the drawings though deception,” the NSS said.

Meanwhile, the NSS said that Narek Sargsyan, who along with his bodyguard left for Moscow on June 22, has been put on a wanted list.

The NSS also said that its operatives found two suitcases that Narek Sargsyan allegedly had asked a close friend to hide in another apartment. “In the suitcases found were narcotic substances of the cocaine and methamphetamine type, four guns, one of them with a silencer, bullets, drugs of unknown origin, glass and plastic pipes with white and black traces, droppers that were most likely used for drugs and other items,” the statement said.

The NSS released a video later on Thursday showing the search at the apartment of Aleksandr Sargsyan where Narek Sargsyan is registered.

At the residence along with the 14 drawings of Martiros Sarian the NSS officers also found large sums of money, expensive watches, numerous gold coins and pieces of jewelry “whose legality will be checked as part of the criminal investigation.”

Sixty-two-year-old Aleksandr Sargsyan, who is better known to the public as “Sashik,” is thought to have made a big fortune in the past two decades. Unconfirmed reports in the Armenian press have said that he spent millions of dollars buying real estate in Europe and the United States.

Aleksandr Sargsyan was briefly detained on June 25 by police who found weapons in his car. Later Valery Osipian, the chief of the Armenian police, said that it was found out that the weapons were possessed by Sargsyan legally.

Meanwhile, Serzh Sargsyan’s second, youngest brother Levon Sargsyan and his two children are suspected of “illegal enrichment” and could face prosecution on relevant charges after law-enforcement authorities discovered nearly $7 million held by them in an Armenian bank.

The State Revenue Committee (SRC) launched criminal proceedings against them last week shortly after announcing that a company linked to Levon Sargsyan has been fined 800 million drams ($1.7 million) for tax evasion.

The SRC said that while searching Sargsyan’s home its investigators found documents showing that he, his son Narek and daughter Ani deposited a total of $6.8 million in the unnamed bank “in the second half of 2017.” It said that the ex-president’s youngest brother and Ani Sargsyan failed to disclose these sums to a state anti-corruption body while Narek did not file any income declarations at all.

Under Armenian law, such declarations are mandatory for high-ranking state officials and their family members. This legal requirement applies to Levon Sargsyan because he has long worked as ambassador-at-large at the Armenian Foreign Ministry.

In a separate probe the Special Investigation Service last month brought charges of illegal enrichment against Vachagan Ghazarian, Serzh Sargsyan’s longtime chief bodyguard, who was remanded in custody on June 28. Ghazarian carried over $1 million worth of cash in a bag during his arrest. Police found another $1.1 million as well as 230,000 euros ($267,000) in cash when they searched his apartment earlier in June.

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