YEREVAN, October 2. / ARKA /. The Union of Armenians of Russia called today on Armenian parliament to decline a petition by the prosecutor general to lift the parliamentary immunity of former Armenian foreign minister Vartan Oskanian and allow his prosecution.
The Armenian National Assembly started on Monday debates on whether to lift Oskanian's immunity or not. Vartan Oskanian, elected to the parliament from the Prosperous Armenia Party, which has the second largest faction in the legislature, is accused by the National Security Service (NSS) of money-laundering stemming from a lavish donation made to Civilitas Foundation, a Yerevan think-tank founded by Oskanian, by U.S. philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr. in 2010. The money was generated by the sale of a construction materials plant that was built by Huntsman in Yerevan in the early 1990s.
"We find it intolerable that a diplomat, a known and respected politician has to prove his innocence in the parliament," the Union of Russians of Armenia said in the statement. It says "launching a criminal case against a prominent politician during the election campaign raises suspicion that the case is politically motivated."
"We are sure the law enforcement agencies of Armenia should drop the criminal prosecution of Oskanian,” it says.
The Union of Armenians of Russia called upon all Armenians and Armenian citizens in Russia to start collecting signatures under a petition to the president of Armenia, as well as the leader of Prosperous Armenia Gagik Tsarukyan ‘to demand that they defend the good name of Vartan Oskanian, who has become a symbol of Armenia’s intellectual foreign policy and a bright example of a successful return of a Diaspora Armenian to his historic homeland. "
The parliamentary factions of Prosperous Armenia, Heritage and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said they would not take part in the voting. The largest oppositional Armenian National Congress has not expressed its position yet. The Republican Party of Armenia and Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) which control together 74 seats have neither expressed their stance yet.
According to the Rules of the National Assembly of Armenia, Oskanian may be lifted of his immunity if the prosecutor general’s petition is endorsed by 66 lawmakers, who are to express their stance by secret ballot. -0-