YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenian law-enforcement authorities have moved to arrest a former top aide to former President Robert Kocharian after bringing more criminal charges against him.
The once powerful official, Armen Gevorgian, has also been charged with assisting in an “overthrow of the constitutional order,” corruption and money laundering, his lawyer told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday.
The lawyer, Erik Aleksanian, said he is not authorized yet to divulge details of the grave accusations. He said his client categorically denies them.
“We certainly believe that the accusations are fabricated and have nothing to do with reality,” added Aleksanian.
A court will open on Thursday hearings on Gevorgian’s pre-trial arrest sought by the Special Investigative Service (SIS).
Gevorgian was already charged in August with obstructing justice in the wake of a disputed 2008 presidential election. The SIS claims that he pressured a member of Armenia’s Constitutional Court to uphold the official election results that gave victory to Kocharian’s preferred successor, Serzh Sarkisian.
That accusation, also denied by Gevorgian, seems to be based on a leaked U.S. diplomatic cable sent to Washington in March 2008 by Joseph Pennington, the then U.S. charge d’affaires in Yerevan.
Pennington met with the Constitutional Court judge, Valeri Poghosian, two days before the court rejected an appeal lodged by Levon Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition presidential candidate. In that message publicized by Wikileaks, the diplomat cited Poghosian as alleging that Kocharian has “fixed” the upcoming court ruling.
Poghosian, who retired in 2014, did not explicitly confirm the claims attributed to him when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in August. “I did not say such a thing. I told [American diplomats] some facts which they portray as pressure,” he said.
Gevorgian was the chief of Kocharian’s staff during the final years of the latter’s ten-year rule that came to an end in April 2008. He went on to serve as Armenia’s deputy prime minister and hold other senior positions in the Sarkisian administration.
The fresh charges against Gevorgian were leveled just four days after Kocharian was arrested on charges of illegally using the armed forces against Ter-Petrosian supporters who protested in Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008. The SIS says that amounted to an “overthrow of the constitutional order.”
Kocharian strongly denies the charges. He says that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian is waging a political “vendetta” against him.
Pashinian played a key role in the 2008 protests. Eight protesters and two police servicemen died when they were quelled by security forces.