On Sunday morning of June 14, the NSS released a statement that warranted searches were conducted at Gagik Tsarukyan’s mansion, head of Prosperous Armenia Party. Party leaders, including MPs Naira Zohrabyan, Arman Abovyan and others gathered at the site to condemn the law enforcement actions and support their party leader.
In the meanwhile, documents were leaked in social media where details show how the web of election fraudsters operated and how 10.000 AMD bribes were distributed to buy votes from voters and rig the 2017 parliamentary elections in various regions of Armenia.
Tsarukyan was later called for a testimony at the NSS, while the latter released a fuller statement on the counts of offenses for which the law enforcement actions were taking place.
“A group of “Prosperous Armenia Party members, in preliminary agreement with each other, were engaged in numerous accounts of in person or intermediated bribing of voters to vote for their party during the parliamentary elections of April 2, 2017. The leadership of the party was also involved in this process.”
The NSS state that hundreds of millions of AMD were distributed as bribes during the 2017 elections.
“During preliminary investigation, around 40 searches were conducted, as a result of which documents were identified on the cash flow during the elections disbursed for the purpose of giving bribes to voters, “activists” coordinating these actions, compensation of university fees in the name of charity, analysis of actual votes versus disbursed bribes, as well as other data that give ample reason to conclude that these documents were provided as accountability reports for the Party leadership.”
The confiscated documents even include a questionnaire based on which individuals were identified that would act, during rallies, as prefabricated solicitors of material support from the Party.
The investigation is ongoing, details will be provided in the course of times, states NSS.
In the meanwhile, Gagik Tsarukyan, addressed his party fellows and supports in front of his mansion. “With today’s actions they want to pressure me, this is blackmailing. As Tsarukyan Gagik, I will be a son of a… if I retreat. Let them cook up whatever they want, it won’t hurt me… This is a political repression, but only a son of a … will be oppressed. Both in 2015 and now, we will be able to mobilize the citizens of all the marzes… He [probably Nikol Pashinyan] will be held accountable before the law, the people and myself. I will never forget this,” announced Tsarukyan before being apprehended by the NSS for the purposes of testimony.
Prosperous Armenia MP Arman Abovyan also stated that Party coordinates in all the marzes were also apprehended. In the meanwhile, Armenian Times newspaper wrote that workers and contractors of “Arinj Mall” and other businesses of Tsarukyan are instructed to immediately arrive to the site to join those already gathered and to protest against Nikol Pashinyan.
The NSS statement also contained details about alleged illegalities in the business operation of “Onira Club” CJSC registered in 2010 for the purpose of operating casinos and gambling sites. The company used the existing “Shangri La” casino and misguided respective state bodies in the true volumes of its project and as a result the state impaired around 40mln AMD potential investments.
The company also misused the territory for which it was given a permit to operate the casino and built it at another address, due to which the state incurred around 30mln AMD losses. These counts are investigated as illegal entrepreneurial activity that inflicted significant damages to the state, and fraud and abuse of trust by inflicting material damage.
The scandal around Tsarukyan has been brewing for quite some time now. On June 6, 2020, Prosperous Armenia Party convened a televised party assembly, where Tsarukyan made a bellicose speech targeting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the government’s business, social and anti-epidemic actions. He said that the current authorities must be changed “by 100 percent.” He made it clear that he was looking for political allies to make up a new coalition against the new government of Armenia.
Many public figures reacted to his speech, finding it sarcastic that one of the largest oligarchs of Armenia speaks of the poor, need for social changes etc. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Speaker, Mane Gevorgyan wrote on her Facebook page on the same day; “I think Mr. Tsarukyan is simply concerned with a number of criminal cases related to money laundering, voter bribing, tax evasion and corruption. If Mr. Tsarukyan thinks that his political statements will deviate the investigation from its course, this is a wrong calculation because in Armenia everyone is equal in front of the law, including in front of the Law on Confiscating Illegally Obtained Property, in relation to which Mr. Tsarukyan has reasons to worry.”