YEREVAN — Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister highly critical of Armenia’s government, has been summoned to the National Security Service (NSS) for questioning in a criminal investigation which he denounced as politically motivated on Monday.
In a written statement, Oskanian said the NSS has opened a criminal case on money laundering allegedly involving himself and the Civilitas Foundation, a Yerevan think-tank which he founded and headed until recently.
“I find it strange and astonishing that my work and the work of Civilitas can in any way be linked to money laundering or illegally acquired funds,” he said. “Even more astonishing is that such a question is being raised at a time when I have entered politics.”
“It is obvious to me that the criminal case that has been opened is politically motivated,” he added.
The NSS, which is the Armenian successor agency to the Soviet KGB and normally deals with very serious criminal cases, confirmed the summons and the launch of criminal proceedings against Oskanian and Civilitas. But it declined to comment further.
Oskanian insisted that Civilitas’s activities have always been transparent and legal. “Since its first days in 2008, the Civilitas Foundation’s programs have been supported by the governments of the Netherlands and Poland, the foreign ministries of Norway and Germany, the international development organizations of Switzerland and the UK, the US Embassy in Yerevan, the OSCE Yerevan Office, as well as other well-known organizations, corporations and individuals,” he said. “This has been public information. The government agencies of the Republic of Armenia clearly could not have been ignorant about these relationships.”
Civilitas’s four-year activities have focused on the analysis of political and economic developments in and around Armenia as well as public discussions featuring politicians, intellectuals and other public figures. The think-tank also launched an Internet TV station targeting mainly young Armenians last September.