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Former Yerevan Mayor Arrested, Freed


Armenia -- Mayor Gagik Beglarian attends public celebrations in Yerevan, October 9, 2010.

Gagik Beglarian, a former government minister and Yerevan mayor facing corruption charges, was arrested late on Monday but released on bail hours later after returning to Armenia from Russia.

Beglarian ran the Armenian capital from 2009-2011 and served as the country’s transport minister from 2012-2016 during former President Serzh Sarkisian’s rule.

Law-enforcement authorities issued an arrest warrant for him in March 2020 after accusing him of a large-scale “waste” of public property and abuse of power. The National Security Service (NSS) claimed that Beglarian had illegally privatized a kindergarten building in central Yerevan at a fraction of its market value. He denied the accusations.

Beglarian flew to Yerevan from Moscow to take part in the funeral of his deceased brother. According to the Office of the Prosecutor-General, he turned himself in to the NSS and was arrested on his arrival.

A statement by the law-enforcement agency said Beglarian also paid investigators a “deposit” equivalent to the “damage inflicted on the state.” It said a prosecutor overseeing the probe released him on Tuesday on a 50 million-dram ($96,000) bail.

Beglarian’s lawyer, Hrant Ananian, said his client continues to deny the accusations. “I cannot comment further,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

The 57-year-old Beglarian, who is also known as “Black Gago,” is no stranger to controversy. He was forced to resign as Yerevan mayor in December 2010 after reportedly assaulting an official from the presidential administration’s protocol unit.

The official, Aram Kandayan, incurred Beglarian’s ire after asking the latter’s wife not to sit next to President Sarkisian during an opera concert in Yerevan. Beglarian and his bodyguards reportedly kidnapped and beat up Kandayan afterwards.

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