Armenian court rules to arrest son-in-law of ex-president on charges of illegal enrichment
An Armenian court ruled on May 6 for the arrest of Mikayel Minasyan – son-in-law of former Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
Minasyan is being charged with illegal enrichment, declaring false income, and the legalization of property obtained by criminal means.
He is not the first member of the former president’s inner circle to have problems with the law.
Criminal proceedings were also filed against his brothers and nephews, as well as his father, Mikayel Minasyan.
Serzh Sargsyan himself is accused of embezzlement of budgetary funds in the amount of more than a million dollars.
The criminal case against Mikael Minasyan was opened in March 2020, at which time he was put on the wanted list. There have been some suggestions that he is now in Italy.
Minasyan’s lawyer Migran Poghosyan called the court’s decision to arrest his client “absurd and shameless.” In his opinion, the document “does not even hint at the analysis of the arguments presented by the defense”.
Recently, the ex-president’s son-in-law has been posting video messages addressed to citizens of Armenia on his Facebook page. From his home in an unknown location abroad, he delivers harsh criticism of the authorities and talks about the various ways he has served his homeland.
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What Mikael Minasyan Says
The ex-president’s son-in-law claims that the current authorities tried to remove him from the political playing field and persuade him not to return to his homeland in exchange for ending the criminal prosecution.
Minasyan said that the former head of the national security service met with him to discuss this issue on behalf of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. However, he declined this offer because he could not “be civil to deceitful and irresponsible people, who are traitors to the people.”
The press secretary of the former head of the NSS, Artur Vanetsyan, responded to this statement. Kristina Melkonyan suggests that everyone recall the interview with Arthur Vanetsyan, in which he expressed his attitude towards Mikael Minasyan.
“Let no one draw any connection between me and Mikael Minasyan, because for me, this is a person who still has to answer many questions before the law of the Republic of Armenia,” Vanetsyan said in September 2019 after his resignation.
The Prime Minister’s press service has not yet commented on the statements of Mikael Minasyan.
Minasyan also stated that he was not returning to Armenia because the Armenian Prime Minister “decided long ago to arrest him.” “But someday I will definitely be back,” says Minasyan.
In his following Facebook speeches, he promised to investigate the mistakes that were made during the presidency of Serzh Sargsyan.
The parliament treats Minasyan’s statements with general distrust
Hayk Konjoryan, a member of the National Assembly from the ruling “My Step” faction, considers Minasyan’s statement a “primitive ploy” to avoid punishment:
“To make political statements…only to then say, ‘Look, I’m being subjected to political persecution.’ Regardless of who you are, a former gambler who placed bets casinos using the people’s money, or a former high-ranking official who has accumulated millions from several different ventures.”
Taron Simonyan, a member of the Enlightened Armenia opposition faction, also views Minasyan’s statements as an attempt to justify and divert attention from himself. But the opposition still feels that the country’s authorities need to respond to the statement addressed to them.
Independent deputy Arman Babajanyan also does not trust the version described in the video message:
“It seems a long shot that the Armenian authorities, in particular, Nikol Pashinyan, could somehow make him an offer only a year after he rejected the first one – and not just him, but the whole system that Minasyan clearly represents.”