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Tsarukian’s Party Faces Another Probe Into ‘Vote Buying’


Armenia - Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of Tsarukian Bloc, casts his vote at the parliamentary election, Arinj village, 02Apr,2017

Law-enforcement authorities raised the possibility of more criminal charges against businessman Gagik Tsarukian on Monday when they claimed that employees of one of his companies had bought votes for his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK).

The State Revenue Committee (SRC) said some workers of a Tsarukian-owned cement plant located in the southern town of Ararat handed out vote bribes to local residents in the run-up to parliamentary elections held in 2012 and 2017.

In a statement, the SRC also claimed to have obtained “factual data” indicating that other workers were told to join the BHK and earn it votes or lose their jobs. They then presented the management of the Ararat Tsement plant with lists of people planning to vote for Tsarukian’s party at their urging, it said in a statement.

The statement gave no other details. It said the SRC, which comprises Armenia’s tax and customs services, has sent the criminal case to the Office of the Prosecutor-General for further investigation.

A spokesman for the office, Gor Abrahamian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that nobody has been charged as part of that case yet. “It’s too early to speak about that now,” he said.

Abrahamian also said that the prosecutors have already instructed the National Security Service (NSS) to look into the SRC claims. The case may well be incorporated into an ongoing NSS investigation into vote buying allegedly ordered by Tsarukian.

Armenia -- Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian (C) emerges from his villa in Arinj after it was raided by security forces, Jne 14, 2020.
Armenia -- Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian (C) emerges from his villa in Arinj after it was raided by security forces, Jne 14, 2020.

The NSS charged in June that Tsarukian “created and led an organized group” that bought more than 17,000 votes for the BHK during the 2017 parliamentary race. The tycoon, whose party has the second largest group in Armenia’s current parliament, rejects the accusations as politically motivated. He claims that they were “fabricated” in response to his calls for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation voiced earlier in June.

One of Tsarukian’s lawyers, Emin Khachatrian, dismissed the SRC’s claims as “not credible” while acknowledging that he is not familiar with their details.

Senior BHK representatives could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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