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Constitutional Court Asked To Strip Tsarukian Of Parliament Seat


ARMENIA -- Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, gives a speech at the parliament ahead of a vote on stripping him of immunity from prosecution, Yerevan, June 16, 2020.

The leadership of the Armenian parliament asked the Constitutional Court on Tuesday to strip Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), of his parliament seat.

The senior lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc based the decision on the findings of a state anti-corruption body.

The Commission on the Prevention of Corruption claimed earlier this month that Tsarukian has violated a constitutional clause that bans parliament deputies from engaging in entrepreneurial activity. The commission said that he has continued to run at least some of the several dozen companies owned by him. It dismissed strong objections voiced by the BHK leader’s lawyers.

Senior BHK deputies tried unsuccessfully to stop the parliament leadership from appealing to the Constitutional Court. They said the move is part of a continuing government crackdown on Armenia’s largest parliamentary opposition force.

The court has to decide within one month whether or not Tsarukian should hold his parliament seat.

Tsarukian’s party is one of 16 opposition forces that launched on November 10 street protests against Pashinian’s handling of the war with Azerbaijan. They accuse Pashinian of a sellout and demand his resignation.

Tsarukian, who is one of the country’s richest men, was arrested in late September on vote buying charges strongly denied by him. A Yerevan court freed him on bail on October 22.

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