Vladimir Gasparian, a former chief of the Armenian police, was charged on Wednesday with abusing his powers to benefit people working for former President Serzh Sarkisian’s brothers.
The Investigative Committee claimed that Gasparian created fictitious positions for Levon Sarkisian’s driver and Aleksandr Sarkisian’s two bodyguards when he headed Armenia’s military police in the 2000s.
The committee said that the three men never reported for work in a military police unit but received nearly 22 million drams ($46,000) in combined salaries. Gasparian allowed them to do other “work not stemming from their status,” it said in a statement.
According to the statement, Gasparian was charged with abuse of power and “inactivity” that resulted in “severe material consequences” for the state.He will face between three and seven years in prison if found guilty.
Gasparian, who was not arrested, rejected the accusations as baseless through his lawyer Tigran Atanesian. In a Facebook post, Atanesian said his client has refused to answer any questions from investigators.
A spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee, Naira Harutiunian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that despite his strong denial Gasparian has agreed to transfer 22 million drams to the law-enforcement body later on Wednesday in payment for the alleged financial damage to the state. Gasparian did not immediately confirm this.
Gasparian had served as military police chief from 1997-2010 and as deputy defense minister from 2010-2011. Serzh Sarkisian appointed him as chief of the national police service in 2011. The police general held that post until the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled Sarkisian.
Later in 2018 the new authorities in Yerevan brought separate criminal charges against the ex-president’s brothers. Levon Sarkisian apparently fled Armenia shortly after the revolution while Aleksandr paid the state as much as $30 million to avoid imprisonment.
“This is the fifth or six criminal case linked to [Gasparian’s] name since his dismissal,” wrote Atanesian. “Some of these criminal cases were closed during the investigation phase. We are convinced that this latest case … will be closed as well.”
In December, the Investigative Committee claimed to have obtained “facts” suggesting that Gasparian had pledged to help an embattled businessman avoid bankruptcy in return for his pre-election support for the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia. But the committee apparently stopped short of pressing corresponding charges against the former police chief.