The Office of the Prosecutor-General said Ghukasian forged documents to illegally sell dozens of plots of municipal land when he ran Armenia’s second largest city from 1999 to 2012. They included parts of Gyumri’s central park, it said in a statement.
The statement claimed that Ghukasian acquired some of those plots not subject to privatization, causing “substantial damage” to the state.
It added that investigators decided not to arrest him pending investigation despite charging him with 19 counts of abuse of power and as many counts of forgery.
The ex-mayor rejected the charges as politically motivated and said he will “fight to the end” to prove his innocence.
“They [governments] will come and go but we will stay on. So don’t worry,” he told News.am.
Ghukasian, 60, was dogged by scandals and controversies throughout his long tenure. Critics accused him of leading a clan that controlled much of the local economy and tolerated no competition. He also faced accusations of violent conduct which he also denied.
In 2007, Ghukasian narrowly survived an apparent assassination attempt when unknown gunmen opened fire on his motorcade outside Yerevan, seriously wounding him and killing three of his bodyguards.
Ghukasian resigned as Gyumri mayor in 2012 after losing the support of then President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia. He subsequently joined an alliance led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian and was elected to the Armenian parliament in 2017.
Like Tsarukian, the ex-mayor welcomed the 2018 “velvet revolution” that toppled Sarkisian and brought Nikol Pashinian to power.
Ghukasian openly supported another former president, Robert Kocharian, and his opposition Hayastan alliance in the last parliamentary elections held on June 20.