On June 25, Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) and Police detained former President Serzh Sargsyan's Head of Security Vachagan Ghazaryan and Serzh Sargsyan's brother, Alexandr Sargsyan. The latter was released on the same day. Police have also taken into custody the wife of already detained General Manvel Grigoryan.
Head of Security for former President Serzh Sargsyan
Vachagan Ghazaryan was the Head of Security for former President Serzh Sargsyan and is known to be a close associate of Sargsyan’s. According to numerous media reports, Ghazaryan and his wife have accumulated immense wealth over the years. On June 20, the Investigative Committee of Armenia conducted a search of Ghazaryan’s residence and in Yans Restaurant, which is registered under Vachagan Ghazaryan's wife, Ruzanna Beglaryan’s name. Thirty five million AMD (~70,000 USD), 1.1 million USD, two luxury watches, a Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz were found in the properties.
Vachagan Ghazaryan, who was a high-ranking government official, did not declare or pay taxes on his acquired funds and properties. A criminal case has been filed against him for illegal accumulation of wealth and fraudulent declaration of assets.
Vachagan Ghazaryan was detained by the NSS on June 25 while leaving Unibank. He was carrying 120,000 USD and 436 million AMD (~ 900,000 USD) in his handbag). Ghazaryan said that he had cashed out the amount to return to the real owner, but he did not say who the owner was.
Brother of former President Serzh Sargsyan
On June 25, police detained Alexandr Sargsyan, the brother of Armenia’s former President and former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Sargsyan and his bodyguards were arrested on suspicion of keeping illegal weapons and ammunition. They were released later that day.
Wife of Detained General Manvel Grigoryan
Armenia’s Special Investigative Service detained General Manvel Grigoryan's wife, Nazik Amiryan, on June 25. On June 18, police discovered UAZ and GAZ four-wheel drive light trucks in a property owned by the couple. The cars were loaded with canned meat, labelled "For Soldiers". The drivers of these cars, members of the Union of Yerkrapah Volunteers, were taken into custody, together with the vehicles.
A total of 2980 cans of meat labelled “Not for sale. For Soldiers” have been found in the vehicles. According to the driver's statements, they were ordered by Nazik Amiryan to load the trucks with canned food from the administrative building of Union of Yerkrapah Volunteers at Arshakunyats 22.
Nazik Amiryan’s husband, General Manvel Grigoryan, a member of Armenia’s Parliament from the Republican Faction, was arrested over charges of illegal acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition, as well as embezzling assets and food belonging to the army. National Assembly of Armenia voted to strip Grigoryan of his parliamentary immunity on June 19.
Walking atop Tsitsernakaberd Hill overlooking the Armenian capital of Yerevan, one can see the striking similarities to Jerusalem. The view resembles that from Yad Vashem, the main Israeli memorial site that honors and commemorates the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
Verin Dvin, a village not too far from Armenia’s capital Yerevan, is home to the largest community of Assyrians in the country. Assyrians are the third largest minority in Armenia. They are descendants of the Assyrians who used to live in Iran, and moved to Armenia during the Russian-Persian War at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Not wanting to be the “messenger of bad news” or bayghoush as the popular folklore calls it down here in Armenia, but I cannot stop thinking “Who’s next?”. I do not want to focus on the “Who’s next?” question though. Rather, I would like to rhetorically ask the “What’s next?” question. How are these developments affecting Armenia’s investment climate and international reputation among investors and donors? Donors. Let’s just stop for a moment on that word.