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Abovyam Mayor Charged for Willful Inaction Affecting Public Property

Persecutor General’s PR Department, followed by the Investigative Committee of Armenia have issued statements that criminal charges have been brought against Vahagn Gevorgyan, Mayor of Abovyan.

The press release by the office of the Prosecutor General contains details emphasizing Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan’s role in correcting preliminary investigative errors and revoking the decision of Kotayk region’s investigators to close the case. The criminal charge is brought against Mayor Gevorgyan for willful inaction to stop and prevent seizure of public land (owned by the community) and construction of unauthorized buildings in accordance with Article 315.2 of the Criminal Code of Armenia.

Gevorgyan, a protégé of Prosperous Armenia’s Gagik Tsarukyan, beat his rival from “My Step” revolutionary coalition and was re-elected in the post of Mayor in June 2019 despite the high popularity of “My Step” in all over Armenia. Many claimed that this was an election of “old Armenia” still stuck in the times of the ousted regime. Kotayk Marz and Abovyan town are highly dominated by Gagik Tsarukyan’s businesses and political presence.

In July 2019, the head of the Urban Development, Technical and Fire Safety Inspectorate wrote to the prosecutor’s office in Kotayk Marz that a private company constructing blocks of apartments had committed urban development violations, was given notices and penalties by the Inspectorate, however continued construction by committing the same violations.

The preliminary investigation conducted by local police investigators concluded that the private company was given an administrative fine in an amount of 200.000 AMD by Mayor Gevorgyan in May 2019 for unauthorized construction on its own property. Later on, the company obtained all the necessary permits and continued construction legally. Later, the same company received an administrative fine in an amount of 400.000 AMD by Mayor Gevorgyan for building unauthorized buildings on communal lands and therefore no criminal act was present in Gevorgyan’s actions. A total 19 apartment blocks were built on lands obtained by the company as its own property and on communal lands. The criminal file was closed.

In October 2019, Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan revoked this decision on the grounds of incomplete and flawed investigation and reopened investigation by claiming that Vahagn Gevorgyan, endowed with the duty to prevent and stop unauthorized construction and seizure of communal land, did not carry out his duty and did not take appropriate measures set in legislation on administrative violations. The actions taken by him were a formality while seizure of 2240 square meters of public land and unauthorized construction continued.

Neither press release specifies the name of the company in charge of apartment block construction. Clarifications are denied at the Investigative Committee. Still in October 2018, Gagik Tsarukyan together with Vahagn Gevorgyan made a public opening of a construction site in Abovyan claiming “building houses for the young.” It is likely the private company implicated in the matter is a Tsarukyan business.