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Tsarukian’s Party Sees More ‘Fabricated’ Criminal Cases


Armenia -- Deputies from the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party attend a parliament session, Yerevan, September 4, 2020.

The opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) claimed on Wednesday that the Armenian authorities want to prosecute more of its senior members after bringing criminal charges against BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian.

Citing information from unnamed government insiders, Naira Zohrabian, a senior BHK parliamentarian, said the authorities are busy “fabricating” criminal cases against her and her colleagues and may try to lift their parliamentary immunity from prosecution soon.

“He who ordered all this knows me very well and is well aware that it’s impossible to intimidate me in any way,” Zohrabian wrote on Facebook, apparently referring to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

BHK spokeswoman Iveta Tonoyan also cited such “insider information” when she spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “A constant wiretapping of our phones and collection of various compromising material against us have become the norm, which makes me feel really sorry because I thought that such practices will not be possible in the new Armenia,” she claimed.

Tonoyan said that many members of Armenia’s leading parliamentary opposition party have already been indicted in various criminal cases opened after Tsarukian was charged with vote buying in June. She stressed that this will not stop the BHK from continuing to campaign for the government’s resignation.

Tsarukian strongly denies the accusations, saying that they were leveled in retaliation for his strong criticism of Pashinian’s government voiced earlier in June. The BHK leader, who is also one of Armenia’s wealthiest businessmen, stood by that criticism in a speech delivered late last month.

The National Security Service (NSS), which is conducting the criminal investigation into Tsarukian, declined to clarify on Wednesday whether it has also indicted other senior BHK figures.

Maria Karapetian, a parliament deputy from Pashinian’s My Step bloc, flatly denied any political persecution of the BHK leadership. “I can rule out any political motives for the administration of criminal justice in Armenia,” she said.

Karapetian also dismissed Zohrabian’s claims that the pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament wants to sack her as chairwoman of a parliament committee on human rights issues.

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