A court in the Armenian capital Yerevan will announce its ruling whether to allow the arrest of the leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia party Gagik Tsarukyan or not on Sunday, June 21.
Speaking to reporters after the court’s session, Tsarukyan repeated his claims that the criminal case against him is fabricated in retaliation to his criticism of the government.
“If I am to blame for the current situation in the country, for the declining economy, then I am ready to bear the punishment for it,” Tsarukyan said.
Tsarukyan’s lawyer Yerem Sargsyan told reporters that the prosecutors could not substantiate their position and show other documents incriminating his client, except for a list of voters, who according to the investigation, were handed out bribes in exchange for voting in favor of Tsarukyan’s party in the 2017 parliamentary elections.
Sargsyan emphasized that there is not a single document in the case that would testify that Tsarukyan personally gave bribes or ordered others to give them.
On June 16, Armenia’s National Assembly voted to strip Gagik Tsarukyan of his parliamentary immunity allowing prosecutors to prosecute him on charges of vote fraud and illegal commercial activity. The motion brought to parliament by prosecutor general Artur Davtyan was backed by 87 MPs, all from the ruling My Step bloc.
Tsarukyan is accused of creating and leading an organized group that bought more than 17,000 votes for his Prosperous Armenia Party during parliamentary elections held in April 2017.
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) said in three subsequent statements on June 15 that its Investigative Department collected sufficient evidence showing that Tsarukyan was engaged in illegal commercial activity conducted through two of his gambling firms having caused damages to the government in the amount of $61 million.
Tsarukyan is also accused of seizing illegally a land area for his Arinj Mall that caused damages to the tune of over $800,000.