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Constitutional Court Refuses To Strip Tsarukian Of Parliament Seat


ARMENIA -- Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, arrives at the parliament ahead of a vote that stripped him of immunity from prosecution, Yerevan, June 16, 2020.

The Constitutional Court has thrown out an appeal by the leadership of the Armenian parliament 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 appealed to the court late last month, citing the findings of a state anti-corruption body.

The Commission on the Prevention of Corruption claimed 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.

Tsarukian’s political allies rejected the claims and said the appeal to the Constitutional Court is part of a continuing government crackdown on the BHK, which is Armenia’s largest parliamentary opposition force.

A spokeswoman for the court announced on Tuesday night that it has refused to even hold hearings and rule on the appeal. She said the court will publicize the legal grounds for the decision by Friday.

One of the court’s nine judges, Edgar Shatirian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Wednesday that the appeal was rejected on a technicality.

Shatirian said most of his colleagues believe that the parliament leadership failed to meet a legal deadline for reacting to the anti-corruption commission’s recommendation. He said he disagreed with them.

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.

Tsarukian’s BHK is one of 17 opposition parties that launched on November 10 street protests against Pashinian’s handling of the recent war with Azerbaijan. They accuse Pashinian of a sellout and demand his resignation.

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