18 June, 2018 22:57

Armenia's National Assembly Member Arrested Over Large Corruption Case

The National Security Service of Armenia (NSS) published a video on June 17 showing its search operations at the compounds belonging to member of Armenia’s National Assembly, general Manvel Grigoryan. Grigoryan is a member of the National Assembly's Republican Faction, which until recently held parliamentary majority.

The video, which quickly went viral, shows large quantities of illegal ammunition, dozens of boxes of food with labels “For Soldiers”, military underwear, hygiene supplies, as well as letters from students addressed to frontline soldiers of the 2016 April War in Grigoryan’s mansions and warehouses.  

The General allegedly fed his wild animals including tigers and bears, also kept illegally, with the foods intended for soldiers. Manvel Grigoryan’s three garages of luxury retro cars, motorcycles and snowmobiles are also captured in the video.

An ambulance belonging to the Ministry of Defense and a number of SUVs that were donated to the Nagorno Karabakh Army from Russian Armenians in April 2016 were also found in Grigoryan’s garage. The vehicles were registered in the names of his relatives and privatized.

Manvel Grigoryan was detained and charged with illegal acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition by preliminary agreement with a group of individuals.

According to Manvel Grigoryan’s official biography, he participated in the Karabakh War in 1988, during which time he was commander of the Echmiadzin volunteer battalion. He has been a member of parliament since 2012, representing the Republican Party of Armenia.

The Republican Party, now an opposition, has stated that if the charges are confirmed, Grigoryan would be held fully accountable before the law. "This is a blow to the moral values of our people, the noble idea of protecting the homeland," the Republican Party statement reads.

On May 18, the government decided to appeal to parliament to strip Manvel Grigoryan of his immunity as a deputy. On May 19, the Parliament will discuss and make a decision regarding his immunity.

"I want to note that we are dealing with, perhaps, the most wide scale case of corruption in the history of the third republic, and this is distinguished by the fact that the revelations are really shocking," said Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan at the cabinet session, adding that "there will not be any compromise with corruption."

The press has frequently covered Manvel Grigoryan's huge wealth, businesses, and large properties. A 2014 investigation by Hetq.am revealed that Grigoryan had 35 properties registered under his name in his native village of Armavir alone. He also owns hectares of land, factories, petrol stations, gas stations, orchards, a resort and other real estate.

Read more: From Army General to Affluent MP: Manvel Grigoryan Hides Income, Doesn't Pay Taxes

Hetq’s investigation showed that Grigoryan did not pay taxes for the territories and businesses he owns. In parallel to this, the press periodically published information about the deputy’s unruly behaviors in the city of Echmiadzin.

Grigoryan's son resigned from his post as Mayor of Echmiadzin following the very public NSS scandal. Grigoryan’s daughter is a judge of the First Instance Court of Armavir Region.

On social media, the public expressed their shock at the revelations and the scale of corruption.

Mkrtich Karapetyan

Zara Poghosyan