Law-enforcement authorities have agreed to investigate what Minister for Local Government Suren Papikian regards as an illegal revelation of his criminal record.
The Yerevan daily “Hraparak” reported last week that Papikian was sentenced to 2 years and 3 months in prison in 2006 for stabbing his commander during compulsory military service which he apparently performed at a Russian base in Armenia. It said that he was released from prison a year later.
The paper critical of the Armenian government accused Papikian of hiding this fact in his official biography.
While acknowledging the criminal conviction, Papikian condemned the “Hraparak” article as an intrusion into his personal life. He implied that he believes the information was leaked to the paper by former or current Armenian officials keen to discredit him and the government.
The minister, who is one of the most important members of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s cabinet, urged law-enforcement authorities to find out who publicized “the secret information relating to my private life.”
Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) announced on Thursday that it has launched criminal proceedings in connection with the newspaper report and Papikian’s reaction to it.
An SIS statement said the inquiry is conducted under an article of the Criminal Code which applies to cases where state officials illegally collect and spread the kind of information about other individuals which is “considered a secret of private life.”
“Hraparak” insisted, meanwhile, that the revelation of Papikian’s criminal record was not an invasion of privacy and that it should not have been kept confidential in the first place.
“We have no limitations in addressing the biography of a state official,” the paper wrote on its website. “Especially given that that information is true and not called into doubt. In any case, with our cameras switched on, we are awaiting a visit by the investigators.”
Papikian, 33, is a senior member of the ruling Civil Contract party who actively participated in the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that brought Pashinian to power. He taught history at a private high school in Yerevan prior to the revolution.