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Kocharian Ally Faces New Charges


Armenian - Armen Gevorgian, a former senior aide to ex-President Robert Kocharian, speaks to journalists in a court building in Yerevan, January 29, 2019.

Armen Gevorgian, a former senior government official allied to ex-President Robert Kocharian, accused the Armenian authorities of political persecution on Thursday after being charged with money laundering.

The Special Investigative Service (SIS) formally indicted Gevorgian on Tuesday one day after it was announced that he will manage the parliamentary election campaign of a newly established opposition alliance led by Kocharian.

The SIS claimed that Gevorgian abused his powers to “legalize” about 5 billion drams ($9.6 milion) in “revenues obtained in a criminal way” when he held various government positions from 2004-2018. It said that he also pressured local government officials to let individuals linked to him buy communal land at knockdown prices.

Gevorgian rejected the accusations as politically motivated after visiting the SIS headquarters in Yerevan. He said they are aimed at hampering his political activities in the run-up to the snap parliamentary elections slated for June 20.

“I refused to cooperate with the SIS,” he told reporters. “Life has shown that this agency only executes political orders and fabricates politically motivated cases. I have not familiarized and will not familiarize myself with the accusations. I don’t care about that pile of papers.”

One of Gevorgian’s lawyers, Erik Aleksanian, also dismissed the accusations, saying that the investigators have not specified any criminal activity that led to the alleged money laundering. He suggested that they would have indicted his client earlier had they had any incriminating evidence.

The SIS opened the criminal case one year ago.

Gevorgian is already standing trial, together with Kocharian, on bribery charges strongly denied by both men.

Gevorgian, 47, was a senior aide to Kocharian during the former president’s decade-long rule. He worked as chief of the presidential staff from 2006-2008 and became Armenia’s deputy prime minister after Kocharian handed over power to Serzh Sarkisian in April 2008.

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