Armenia: ex-president’s son-in-law accuses PM’s wife of ‘cigarette smuggling racket’
A scandal is building in Armenia between the representatives of the old and new government, namely former Armenian ambassador to the Vatican Mikayel Minasyan, who is the son-in-law of the ex-president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, and MP Hrachya Hakobyan, who is the brother-in-law of the current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The scandal began when Mikayel Minasyan accused Pashinyan’s wife Anna Hakobyan and her brother of being involved in a cigarette smuggling deal. Minasyan says that at the end of April, a Ministry of Emergency Situations plane flew out of Yerevan carrying 40 tonnes of Armenian cigarettes. The plane was detained in the Russian city of Krasnodar.
In response to the allegations, the Hakobyan siblings sued Minasyan.
And now Hrachya Hakobyan wrote on his Facebook page that while investigating the criminal case against Minasyan, they found his old computer, and Armenian programmers were able to recover thousands of files on his various “dark affairs.”
More details on the accusations and defense
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The cigarette smuggling story
At the end of April, news broke that a Ministry of Emergency Situations plane was detained in Krasnodar. The craft was carrying 40 tons of cigarettes that were meant to be transported from Yerevan to Afghanistan, with stops in Krasnodar and Dushanbe.
2700 boxes of cigarettes of various brands with Armenian excise stamps were found on the plane. The allegedly forged invoice and declaration were removed from the documents.
The subject became so widely discussed in the Armenian media that the State Revenue Committee had to issue an explanation. It was announced that the batch of cigarettes was being exported legally.
“The fact that the declaration was issued electronically means that could not have been falsified, and all the data indicated within the framework of cooperation between the EAEU countries are available, including to the customs authorities of Russia,” said the State Revenue Committee in a statement.
After that, a message appeared on social media claiming that this batch belonged to Hrachya Hakobyan, the brother-in-law of the prime minister.
The author of this message was the wanted fugitive and son-in-law of the Armenian ex-president, Mikayel Minasyan.
Recently, Minasyan began to publish a series of videos on his Facebook page entitled “Ending the lies.” In one of these videos, he stated that Hrachya Hakobyan and Anna Hakobyan were involved in the cigarette smuggling case.
In response, the brother and sister sued Mikayelyan. The lawsuit was filed on June 1. It states that Anna and Hrachya Hakobyan demand a public apology from Mikayel Minasyan, and that he retract his statements, which they regard as slander. They also demand compensation for damage to their honor, dignity and business reputation.
A compromise from Minasyan
Hrachya Hakobyan wrote on social media that the programmers managed to recover about 9 thousand files from Minasyan’s old computer.
The MP says that these files contained information about “how much Minasyan transferred and to whom, how much he received and from whom, how much he stole and from whom, how he falsified the election results, who was involved and what tricks he used, as well as who he bribed.”
At the same time, the prime minister’s brother-in-law does not specify where he got information that the investigation was able to recover information from the old computer:
“How was this information uncovered? Let us not talk about it.”
Mikael Minasyan is a wanted man. In Armenia, many people think that he is in Italy.
But Hrachya Hakobyan has made a different assumption:
“I have my own information about where he is. According to my sources, he is in Sochi, and yes, I do not rule out the possibility that his location is also known to the law enforcement agencies.”
Hakobyan believes that Minasyan should be returned to Armenia, because “the public demands it.”