YEREVANA (RFE/RL) — Russia-based Armenian businessman with suspected ties to the criminal world was issued a diplomatic passport of Armenia in accordance with the law, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan confirmed in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday.
Ruben Tatulian, who resides in the southern Russian city of Sochi, was reportedly detained by Czech authorities after arriving in the resort town of Karlovy Vary for an alleged meeting of top post-Soviet crime figures known as “thieves in law” that was prevented by the local police.
According to Russian media reports, authorities in the Czech Republic found that Tatulian had an Armenian diplomatic passport on him when he was detained.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry official did not specify for what function and purpose Tatulian had been issued a diplomatic passport. Balayan only made a reference to a corresponding law.
Under Article 49 of Armenia’s Law on Diplomatic Service, in separate cases “other persons” are entitled to carry diplomatic passports with permission of the president of the Republic of Armenia.
RFE/RL’s Armenian service has sent a written inquiry to the Armenian president’s spokesman Vladimir Hakobian to find out when and for what purpose Tatulian was given a diplomatic passport.
Russian media allege that Tatulian, who publicly denies any ties with the underworld, is a top crime figure in Sochi where he was promoted to that status by the top crime boss Aslan Usoyan, also known as Ded Khasan, who was killed in Moscow in 2013 in an apparent intra-mafia clash.
Remarkably, Tatulian is one of 30 businessmen of the so-called Armenian Investors’ Club that in January expressed their support for President Serzh Sarkisian’s and Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s deep reforms in Armenia.
Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments Hovannes Azizian on Wednesday said he did not think that the news about Tatulian may have any impact on Armenia’s reputation.
“I don’t think that these are related things. He is one of the 30 members of the club and the programs, in my opinion, will continue to be implemented in their normal course,” the official said.