An Armenian law-enforcement agency on Thursday summoned former National Security Service (NSS) Director Artur Vanetsian for questioning over scandalous allegations made by Mikael Minasian, former President Serzh Sarkisian’s fugitive son-in-law.
Minasian said late last week that that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian had offered to guarantee his and his father’s immunity from prosecution if he pledges to pay cash and stop challenging the Armenian government. In a video message posted on Facebook, he said Vanetsian personally communicated Pashinian’s offer to him during a February 2019 meeting held in Rome.
Pashinian has still not commented on Minasian’s claims. Vanetsian, who resigned as NSS chief in September 2019 after falling out with Pashinian, has also declined a comment.
Armenian prosecutors were quick to instruct the Special Investigative Service (SIS) to look into the allegations. The SIS should decide by next week whether to launch a formal investigation.
A lawyer representing Vanetsian, Lusine Sahakian, was the first to announce that her client was summoned to the SIS earlier in the day.
“A legal process is underway and we will refrain from further comments regarding it,” Sahakian wrote on Facebook. She gave no other details.
Three Armenian media outlets reported afterwards that Vanetsian has already visited the investigators but refused to give any testimony. The SIS declined to comment.
Vanetsian claimed late last year that he met with Minasian at the prime minister’s initiative when he ran Armenia’s most powerful security service. But he gave no details of the alleged conversation.
Minasian, who now lives abroad, made the allegations one week after it emerged that he was charged with illegal enrichment, false asset disclosure and money laundering earlier this year. He rejected the accusations as politically motivated.
Pashinian has repeatedly accused Minasian of illegally making a huge fortune during Sarkisian’s rule.
A newspaper controlled by the prime minister alleged in January that Minasian and Vanetsian have joined forces in a bid to topple him.
Also, a spokeswoman for Pashinian claimed last week that “according to the government’s information” Vanetsian abused his NSS position to buy Minasian’s minority stake in Armenia’s largest mining company. Vanetsian strongly denied that.
The former security chief officially announced his entry into politics in February, saying that he is setting up an opposition party for that purpose.