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Company Linked To Deputy Prime Minister Investigated

Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian revealed on Monday that the Armenian police have launched an inquiry into a company linked to one of his advisers following corruption allegations made by another senior government official who resigned last month.

The official, Sarhat Petrosian, said he “can no longer tolerate dilettantism and sectarianism bordering on corruption” when he resigned as head of Armenia’s Cadaster Committee. Petrosian, who was named to run the government agency shortly after last year’s “Velvet Revolution,” hit out at the current and former heads of the government’s Urban Development Committee. The latter, Avetik Eloyan, now works as an adviser to Avinian.

In his subsequent public statements, Petrosian implicitly claimed that Eloyan has used his position to win lucrative contracts for an architectural firm registered in his brother’s name in May this year. He said the firm, Eloyan Architects, is already involved in several major redevelopment projects approved by the Armenian government.

Avinian questioned the credibility of Petrosian’s claims when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He denied helping Eloyan’s firm win any of the architectural contracts cited by the former official.

Avinian also said that a police unit tasked with combatting organized crime is now investigating Eloyan Architects in connection with the alleged conflict of interest.

A spokesman for the national police service confirmed that its feared Sixth Directorate is holding such a preliminary inquiry. But he declined to give any details.

Eloyan, who headed the Urban Development Committee from June 2018 to January 2019, could not be immediately reached for comment. Avinian said his adviser is planning to sue Petrosian for defamation.

Armenia — Sarhat Petrosian, head of the Cadaster Committee, at a meeting in Yerevan, October 14, 2019.
Announcing his resignation on October 18, Petrosian also criticized the government’s broader policies on urban development. He complained that he has had only sporadic influence on them. Avinian rejected the criticism on October 21, saying that Petrosian wanted to overstep his powers.

The Cadaster Committee is primarily charged with maintaining a state registry of real estate and registers property deals.

Petrosian, 37, is a well-known architect and public figure who actively participated in the 2018 revolution. In his October 18 statement, he said he continues to regard the popular uprising as “one of the most important achievements in the modern history of the Armenian people.”