YEREVAN — The pro-government majority in Armenia’s parliament on Wednesday allowed prosecutors to bring criminal charges against former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, the parliamentary leader of the main opposition Hayastan alliance.
The National Assembly is also scheduled to vote on Thursday on lifting another opposition lawmaker’s immunity from prosecution.
Ohanyan was deprived of parliamentary immunity at the request of Prosecutor General Anna Vardapetyan by secret ballot. Opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem factions boycotted today’s session.
Prosecutor General said Ohanyan, who served as defense minister in 2008-2016, is charged with three counts of embezzlement on a large scale and abuse of official duties.
One of the counts is considered classified. Two of those cases stem from the privatization of properties that belonged to the Armenian Defense Ministry. They include two buildings in Yerevan and two abandoned military bases located in southern Ararat province.
Under a contract concluded by the defense ministry with Knights Bridge Communications AM CJSC, members of a criminal group were able to mortgage an army-owned property and embezzle part of the money (about 1.84 billion drams).
Vardapetyan claimed that Ohanyan had authorized the illegal sale of these properties at knockdown prices. That constituted a “large-scale waste” of public funds and abuse of power, she told lawmakers.
Vardapetyan confirmed that because of the statute of limitations Ohanian will not receive a prison sentence even if he is convicted of these charges.
The prosecutor presented the other criminal case against Ohanyan behind the closed doors. It stems from alleged supplies of faulty ammunition to the Armenian armed forces which led to the arrest of another former defense minister, Davit Tonoyan, in 2021.
Seyran Ohanyan claims that all these cases were fabricated by the government in order to distract the public from today’s defense problems.