Law-enforcement authorities requested on Thursday an arrest warrant for Armenia’s former Prosecutor-General Gevorg Kostanian three days after indicting him in connection with the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) has still not specified what exactly Kostanian is accused of. It only said on Monday that he was given 48 hours to return to Armenia and appear before SIS investigators.
Kostanian, who now lives in Moscow, failed to meet that deadline, leading the SIS to put him on its most-wanted list. The law-enforcement agency said it also asked a Yerevan court to issue an arrest warrant for the man who served as the country’s chief prosecutor from 2013-2016.
Kostanian deplored the “artificial” hastiness of his indictment when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service by phone on Monday. He said he has repeatedly assured the investigators that he will return to Armenia after the end of the winter exam session at Russia’s state prosecutor academy where he works as a lecturer.
“I have reason to think that if I come to the country now I will at least not be allowed to leave it,” he said.
The SIS signaled its intention to prosecute Kostanian in September when it charged a former chief of the Armenian police with helping the former authorities cover up a crackdown on opposition supporters who demonstrated in Yerevan in the wake of a disputed presidential election held in February 2008.
The SIS claimed that later in 2008 Kostanian and another aide to the newly elected Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian ordered senior police officers to destroy evidence of the “overthrow of the constitutional order” by Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian.
Kocharian is currently under arrest, standing trial, along with three other former officials, on coup charges. The former president rejects them as politically motivated.
It remains to be seen whether Russian authorities will agree to extradite Kostanian to Armenia. Over the past year they have refused to hand over several other former Armenian officials prosecuted by the current authorities. Two of them are also facing criminal charges stemming from the 2008 violence.