YEREVAN, October 9, /ARKA/. Eduard Sharmazanov, a senior member of the governing Republican Party, has brushed away today allegations that money laundering charges brought against former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian are politically motivated.
On Monday Oskanian was summoned to the National Security Service (NSS) and was formally charged with one count of particularly large-scale theft and one count of money laundering. Oskanian was also asked to testify as a ‘defendant’ in the high-profile case, but he refused to do so invoking his constitutional right.
According to Sharmazanov, no political figures are being persecuted in Armenia because of their political views or activity and the “Oskanian case’ should be viewed from the legal point of view.
Oskanian was stripped of his immunity last week by the National Assembly after a majority of his fellow lawmakers allowed his prosecution in a secret ballot boycotted by the parliamentary minority factions, including his Prosperous Armenia Party.
Oskanian argues that his prosecution had “political implications” saying the government’s goal is to “step up pressure” on him and his party.
Oskanian is charged by the National Security Service with misappropriating a $1.4-million donation that was made by U.S. philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. to his Yerevan-based Civilitas Foundation in late 2010. -0-