An Armenian law-enforcement agency made the first arrest on Monday in its ongoing investigation into a possible “usurpation of power” by Constitutional Court Chairman Hrayr Tovmasian.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) said Arsen Babayan, the former deputy chief of the Armenian parliament staff, is suspected of forging documents during the “process” of the resignation in early 2018 of Tovmasian’s predecessor, Gagik Harutiunian.
An SIS statement on Babayan’s arrest gave no details of his alleged crime punishable by up to two years in prison. It indicated that he has not been formally charged yet.
The SIS said that it found evidence of forgery committed by multiple “officials” during the criminal investigation into Tovmasian’s election as Constitutional Court chairman by the former Armenian parliament. Such a probe was demanded by an Armenian parliamentarian who alleged recently that the process of replacing Harutiunian was illegal.
The probe was launched on October 17 two days after the Constitutional Court rejected the current parliament’s demands to oust Tovmasian. The former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), with which Tovmasian was previously affiliated, says it is part of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s continuing efforts to force the high court chairman to resign.
The HHK’s deputy chairman, Armen Ashotian, said Babayan’s “ludicrous” and “immoral” arrest is meant to serve the same purpose.
“This will not help you either,” Ashotian warned the authorities on Facebook. “Hrayr [Tovmasian] will stay on in his trench no matter how much you and your propaganda machine whimper.”
Babayan condemned the criminal proceedings against Tovmasian prior to his arrest. He has also been very critical of the Pashinian government.