Yerevan Mayor Hayk Marutian on Thursday challenged two leading members of the opposition Bright Armenia Party (LHK) to substantiate their allegations that his administration has accepted dubious cash donations from wealthy businesspeople.
In letters sent to the LHK’s Edmon Marukian and Davit Khazhakian, he said they must retract those claims if they cannot come up with any evidence.
Khazhakian is a member of the Yerevan city council who has repeatedly accused Marutian of corruption and mismanagement. He sparked a scandal in November by revealing that private firms have donated two dozen garbage trucks to the municipal administration.
Khazhakian claimed that the donations were made in return for construction permits given to them. Marutian strongly denied such a quid pro quo.
The opposition politician subsequently alleged that the municipality also accepted cash from private donors.
Marutian’s spokesman, Hakob Karapetian, dismissed that allegation as “disinformation.” “After that statement the municipality conducted an additional inquiry and did not find any instances of cash donation,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Karapetian did not exclude that the mayor will take the opposition figures to court if they ignore his demands.
Khazhakian insisted, meanwhile, that he does have evidence of the alleged wrongdoing and has submitted it an ad hoc commission of the Armenian parliament which was formed recently to investigate the controversial donations. He said Marutian should cooperate with the commission.