Մատչելիության հղումներ

Pashinian Aide ‘Investigated’


Armenia - Deputy Justice Minister Anna Vardapetian is interviewed by RFE/RL's Armenian Service, July 28, 2019.

Law-enforcement authorities have pledged to look into allegations that an aide to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian is illegally directing a criminal investigation into a fugitive businessman critical of the Armenian government.

Earlier this week the 168.am news service accused the official, Anna Vardapetian, of issuing written instructions to the top investigator in the criminal case opened against the businessman, Ruben Hayrapetian.

Hayrapetian left Armenia for Russia in March last year shortly before he and his son were charged with kidnapping, violent assault and extortion. Both men deny the accusations.

The controversial tycoon has long been affiliated with former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party. He headed the Football Federation of Armenia from 2002-2018.

The online publication published on Wednesday what it described as screenshots of an e-mail sent by Vardapetian to Artur Ayvazian, a senior Investigative Committee official in charge of the high-profile case. It claimed that the letter contained instructions regarding Hayrapetian’s indictment.

Hayrapetian’s lawyer, Amram Makinian, was quick to seize upon the allegations and portray them as further proof that the charges leveled against his client are politically motivated. He also said Vardapetian committed a crime and must be prosecuted.

Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General responded by saying that it has ordered the National Security Service (NSS) to investigate the 168.am claims.

Vardapetian has not commented on the allegations so far. She again could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The 35-year-old lawyer served as a deputy minister of justice in 2019 and joined Pashinian’s staff a year ago.

Pashinian’s press secretary, Mane Gevorgian, said on Friday that she will not comment until the NSS completes the inquiry.

Ayvazian, the law-enforcement official at the center of the scandal, reportedly told the prosecutors that unknown individuals accessed his e-mail account and uploaded false information there.

Daniel Ioannisian of the Yerevan-based Union of Informed Citizens, expressed concern at the allegations and said they must be “comprehensively” investigated.

“They should also confirm or rule out Anna Vardapetian’s possible interference in other criminal cases and its consequences,” Ioannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

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