Armenian government moves against the leader of the opposition party Prosperous Armenia Gagik Tsarukyan
On the morning of June 14., Armenian National Security Service (NSS) searched the home of the head of the Prosperous Armenia party, oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan, and unveiled several criminal cases against him.
Later on the same day, 252 party supporters were detained after they gathered in front of the NSS headquarters to protest its action. Another 177 supporters of Prosperous Armenia party were arrested by security officers during another protest three days later. Parliament subsequently stripped him of the immunity he held as a member of the legislature, and petitioned for him to be arrested, however, Yerevan court ruled against tycoon’s arrest and detention.
Three criminal cases were initiated against Tsarukyan, including evading more than $60 million in taxes in his casino businesses, bribing voters in the 2017 parliamentary elections, and of illegally taking over state land.
Unlike many others, Tsarukyan, who was widely seen as the most influential of Armenia’s former government-connected oligarch, and a key business partner of former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, remained until now untouched by the new government of Nikol Pashinyan.
Tsarukyan recently strongly condemned the government for the country’s disastrous response to the coronavirus outbreak, which led to Armenia being the regional leader in per capita infections.
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Armenian government seeks security forces reorganization and removes judges of the highest court to allow reform of the justice system
Armenian government of prime minister Nikol Pashinyan appointed on June 8 a 29-year-old Argishti Kyaramyan as a new head of the National Security Service (NSS). According to an analysis published on Eurasianet, the appointment of the young official with no previous experience in the security services has caused an uproar, but it appears to be a transition step toward a reorganized security structure under greater civilian control.
Another article on the same webpage informed that Armenia’s ruling party has passed a constitutional amendment that would immediately remove three of the nine judges on the country’s highest court. The author of the article considers it to be “the latest effort by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his allies to reform Armenia’s justice system, which they say is packed with judges loyal to the former regime “.
To pass the bill, parliament bypassed the standard procedure of sending it to the Constitutional Court and getting it ratified by the president. Human rights activist and the head of the Armenian Helsinki Committee Avetik Ishkhanyan, described this step as “destruction of the rule of law” in Armenia.