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.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke at a collective graduation ceremony of various military educational institutions on July 22, calling Armenia a “peace-loving” country. Notably, he opened his speech addressing “ladies and gentlemen officers.”
Tensions are rising between the European Union and Turkey over exploration drilling carried out by the latter in Cypriot territorial waters. On July 15, EU foreign ministers adopted a package of punitive measures to increase pressure on Ankara. The most striking announcement concerns the European funds destined for Turkey during the year 2020, which are to be cut by €146 million (out of a total of €400 million expected that year). These sums are intended to prepare the country’s possible accession to the European Union. Another financial threat involves the European Investment Bank (EIB), which has been asked to tighten up its conditions for granting aid to Ankara. On the political front, the EU28 have decided to downgrade the level of political dialogue with Turkey.
The Trump Administration has substantially ramped up security assistance to Azerbaijan, amounting to more than $100 million in fiscal years (FY) 2018-19, according to budget data compiled by the Security Assistance Monitor, part of the Center for International Policy, a Washington think tank. Whereas the assistance appears to be part of U.S. strategy to increase pressure against Iran and focuses on Azerbaijan’s Iranian border, it also has direct implications for Armenia.