YEREVAN, September 26. /ARKA/. A court in Yerevan ruled on September 25 to approve a National Security Service’s (NSS) motion on remanding the leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia party Gagik Tsarukyan in pre-trial detention on charges of vote buying.
Judge Mnatsakan Martirosyan set a two-months customary pre-trial detention period for Tsarukyan. He was taken into custody by the NSS.
“We foresaw such a decision. That is why Tsarukyan did not appear at the hearing in the court, but immediately went to the building of the National Security Service and waited there,” a lawyer for Tsarukyan Samvel Dilbanyan told reporters.
Dilbanyan said that Tsarukyan’s lawyers received the court’s decision and have to familiarize themselves with it. According to him, the decision will be appealed in the Court of Appeal.
Later, Tsarukyan told journalists who were at the NSS building that the court’s decision to arrest him was a political order.
“In the shortest possible time the authorities will bear the entire responsibility for their decision. They deceive people both on social and economic issues and on the Karabakh issue,” he said.
Tsarukyan said that he is not afraid of blackmail, and that it is impossible to govern the country by deception and manipulation. “Let people think about their illegal decisions,” he said before entering the building of the National Security Service.
Gagik Tsarukyan is charged with organizing and managing a group with the aim of bribing voters in favor of his party during the 2017 parliamentary elections; the Investigative Department of the National Security Service is investigating a criminal case against him.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) and the Investigative Committee have launched several criminal cases, which involve Tsarukyan and his supporters. Several companies affiliated with Tsarukyan, who is one of the richest businessmen in Armenia, are accused of illegal entrepreneurial activity, vote buying, falsification of documents and fraud with land plots, abuse of office in the Kotayk regional administration.
On June 14, the NSS officers searched Tsarukyan’s mansion in the Arinj community (Kotayk region), then he was summoned twice for interrogation. Tsarukyan denies the charges as fabricated.
On June 16, the Armenian parliament voted to back a petition of the Prosecutor General’s Office to deprive Tsarukyan of his parliamentary immunity and imprison him. On June 21, a lower court rejected the prosecutor’s request to arrest him.
Gagik Tsarukyan has repeatedly said that the criminal cases brought against him and his associates are all fabricated and politically motivated. According to him, the reason is his criticism of the current government of Armenia, which is terrorizing its opponents.”