Armenian anti-corruption drive closes in on Sargsyan

YEREVAN, July 4 (The Conway Bulletin) — Prosecutors in Armenia appear increasingly brazen about going after people linked to former president Serzh Sargsyan in a deepening anti-corruption drive that will reinforce PM Nikol Pashinyan’s reputation as a risk-taking reformer.

In a high-profile arrest, police detained Vachagan Ghazaryan the former head of security for Mr Sargsyan as he left a bank carrying $1m in cash. In what appears to be an attempt to win public support, police also released a film of Mr Ghazaryan’s arrest and then another of him at a police station taking bundles of banknotes out of his briefcase.

A few days later media reported the arrest of another security guard working for Gagik Tsarukyan, a billionaire businessman close to the former government.

On June 30, Mr Sargsyan’s brother Narek and other family members were also arrested by police.

“During a search at Narek Sargsyan’s apartment, documents for a bank account were found, worth $6.8 million and registered to the names of his father Levon Sargsyan and sister Ani Sargsyan,” Armenia’s state revenue committee said in a statement.

Mr Pashinyan was propelled into the PM’s position, now the most powerful position in Armenia, during a revolution in April and May that focused on ejected the ruling Republican Party from power. Complaints against Republican Party officials were that they had clung onto power too long, manipulated the constitution for their own benefit and were intent on enriching friends and family.

Onlookers and analysts have said that Mr Pashinyan needs to keep up his revolutionary persona to maintain momentum for his political agenda and support among ordinary Armenians.


>>This story was first published in issue 377 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper on July  2018

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