Offshore scandal is nearly over
Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza
The offshore scandal is nearly over. One of its subjects is the former prime minister Tigran Sarkisyan. The Georgian side officially informed the General Prosecution of Armenia that it satisfied the request on extradition of Ashot Sukiasyan, one of main subjects of the scandal. The businessman who is on the international wanted list was accused of large scale fraud and the legalization of large scale revenues gained illegally. He was found in Tbilisi in winter 2014. Sukiasyan will be convoyed to Armenia by April 25th. Sukiasyan denies his guilt and says that he got into trouble with former business partners (including Sarksiasyan) who intended to deprive him of his property and business. Now he fears for the lives of his family in Armenia.
The other interesting figure is the General Prosecutor Gevork Kostanyan who replaced Agvan Ovsepyan. His duties came to an end last autumn. Kostanyan used to present Armenia’s interests in the European Court of Human Rights. Considering the growing scandal, the President’s mistake is obvious – Ovsepyan, a skillful “grave digger” of all scandals, was replaced by a much more independent young man.
A reaction of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia seems to be important in the context of the upcoming trial. The show called “The Offshore scandal” involves not only Armenian law enforcement officers, but also their Cypriot and Georgian colleagues. Is the RPA ready to hold on the shock? If Sukiasyan begins to bear witness against Sarkisyan, it will be a kick for the authorities. Will the leadership defend him or try to distance from the case? Now the former premier will be unlikely to receive a diplomatic appointment, as previously promised by the President.
The offshore scandal is a link in the process of weakening the Armenian government. The other link is a sudden statement by the small pro-Western party of Ashot Sukiasyan (PSZ) about uselessness and difficulty with further membership in the coalition and the rejection of becoming a member of a new ruling coalition.
Why is it significant? In May the new government presents its program to the parliament where 52 deputies are not controlled by the authorities, plus six votes of PSZ. Therefore, there are 58 potential votes “against” the program out of 131. Formally the RPA needs no PSZ’s votes, but considering a difficult situation within the coalition of the RPA, the question on the adoption of the program is not unambiguous.