23 February, 2019 00:09

The Weekly Headlines from Armenia

Serzh Sargsyan's Brother Transfers $18.5 Million to the State

Former President Serzh Sargsyan's brother, Alexander Sargsyan ( known as “Sashik”), transferred 18.5 million USD to the state budget, according to the Prime Minister's Office. Back in August 2018, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had announced that through illegal enrichment, one of Sargsyan’s many bank accounts had 30 million USD. Under the direction of Armenia’s National Security Service, the arrest of Alexander Sargsyan's property was made on July 9, 2018. Pashinyan called on Sargsyan to “voluntarily return it to the state budget." According to Head of the National Security Service (NSS) Artur Vanetsyan, Sargsyan returned 30 million USD to the state, 18.5 million of which were gratuitous transfers to the state, and 11.5 million returned through "different acts and non-fulfilled tax liabilities".

Read More: Serzh Sargsyan's Brother Transfers $18.5 Million to the State

Robert Kocharyan's Son Charged With Tax Evasion

On February 19, the National Security Service (NSS) released a statement announcing charges against former president Robert Kocharyan's eldest son, Sedrak Kocharyan, on accusations of not paying taxes and spending illegally acquired income. According to the NSS statement, the Best Western Congress hotel was purchased by Kocharyan with the money received through illegal transactions. Sedrak Kocharyan responded saying that he was not surprised at what’s happening and that Nikol Pashinyan has long been focused on his family.

Yerevan State University Faces Criticism

Last week a group of students held a protest and a march in Yerevan, demanding that the Yerevan State University Board of Trustees raise the issue of non-confidence against Rector Aram Simonyan. Protestors accused Simonyan of anti-student actions. Simonyan denied the accusations and stated that the authorities do not want to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the university with him. According to Simonyan, the authorities are harassing the university's autonomy and he is being persecuted because he is a member of the Republican Party of Armenia. He said he will not resign. Minister of Education and Science Arayik Harutyunyan responded to the issue saying that he sees the necessity of the rector's resignation. According to him, Simonyan uses his position at the univesity to protect himself against criminal cases.

YSU activities have also come under the spotlight after a police report found that from 2015 to 2018, 18 university professors did not attend their classes and the university had no record of it. The police also reported on the receipt of a 10,000 USD bribe by a top university official.

March 1 Anniversary

The coming week marks the 11th anniversary of the March 1, 2008 events, when government forces clashed with protesters, resulting in the deaths of eight civilians and two policemen, and roughly 300 injured. In the course of 10 years, no one has taken or borne any responsibility, including legal, for the deaths that occurred on March 1. Former President Robert Kocharyan, high-ranking military officers Yuri Khachaturov, Mikael Harutyunyan and Seyran Ohanyan are currently being charged with conspiring to overthrow the country’s constitutional order in the March 1 incident. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that  there will be a powerful march from Liberty Square to Myasnikyan Monument, and he will pay tribute to the victims of the March 1 events and will address the citizens with a message.  

Read more: Armenia's Parliament Proposes Bill To Compensate March 1 Victims