Since morning June 16, 2020 the National Assembly of Armenia has been discussing Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan’s motion to relinquish Gagik Tsarukyan’s, head of the Prosperous Armenia party, immunity, to allow criminal prosecution against him for a number of offences, including abuse of powers, illegal entrepreneurial activities, significant bribing of officials etc. Prosecutor General presented only the details of mass bribing during 2017 elections, the first evidence of which was discovered unexpectedly from another corruption investigation involving former head of the Urban Development Committee, Vahagn Vermishyan. The latter allegedly received 5000 USD bribe from Vazgen Poghosyan to grant him an “honorable architect” title, and searches in the latter’s documents led to files called “Report”. The files contained documents on how much money was disbursed by Tsarukyan for bribing voters, paying local mobilizers, and other details around the parliamentary elections of 2017.
Update at 18:11. The Parliament also voted in favor of the second motion of Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan, to arrest Gagik Tsarukyan.
Armenia’s National Security Service released a number of statements and video materials on June 15, including shootings from its raid at Tsarukyan’s mansion earlier on the same morning within an ongoing investigation implicating that Tsarukyan had been engaged in rigging elections, business fraud and.
Later, on June 15, some of the video-recorded evidences were decoded (read) by media, which explicitly suggested the scheme by which Tsarukyan’s proxies vowed their loyalty to him and ensured votes for his party. Many high-profile Prosperous Armenia members wrote in handwriting that they swear to serve Tsarukyan, and/or bring a certain number of votes to him, among the myriad of documents confiscated on the spot from Tsarukyan’s residence indicating a cobweb of voter bribing.
The parliamentary session was attended by 121 MPs at the beginning, with Tsarukyan addressing the Parliament and thе nation for only a short period of time. He denounced the charges brought against him, called them a fabrication, called the investigation a political persecution against himself.
He devoted more time to criticizing the authorities in their failure to combat the pandemic and everything else.
Tsarukyan’s speech was in his usual style, speaking in third person that “Tsarukyan is not collecting dividends.” He spoke of the need for unity, that the “people should not devour its sons.”
“My love to you, I love my nation, what kind of electoral bribe is the matter? I have done everything unconditionally. If anyone pursued self-interest, may he be an azerbaijanian, a turk, a traitor.”
Tsarukyan spoke of “fakes”, the army of “fake Facebook users”, also of the looming “starvation” in three months, lack of investments in the country, the property tax. He assured that he was not an enemy to the nation, he always stood by the authorities, but now the nation is sick, the pandemic battle is lost, who is going to answer for that?
Tsarukyan also complained that his son was also invited to be interrogated. “One man from a family is enough! Be human, be Christian! Let there be one man in the family, but he [his son] has nothing to do…”
Tsarukyan spoke of the poor, of the need to cover their utility costs. He did not forget to speak about the Karabakh issue. “We need international recognition for Artsakh.”
He left the Parliament for interrogations at the National Security Service.
The voting to drop his immunity took place in the absence of parliamentary opposition. Bright Armenia criticized the move, as did the implicated Prosperous Armenia party members, whose Naira Zorhabyan called the situation a “political terror” and left the chamber. The vote to deprive Tsarukyan of immunity received 87 in favor and passed in majority voting.
In the meanwhile, Tsarukyan’s supporters gathered in front of the National Assembly, most of them employees at his businesses. Police called on them to disperse for reasons of ban on public gatherings. As of 11am, more than 100 citizens were detained for not abiding by the order to disperse.