YEREVAN, October 10. / ARKA /. The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, John Heffern, said in a statement today that the charges brought against Armenia’s former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian ‘are bad for justice and democracy in Armenia.’
“As I have said previously, the case appears to represent the selective application of Armenian law. Moreover, the timing of these events in relation to the election schedule is troubling. We urge the Government of Armenia to live up to its commitments to the systematic, fair and transparent implementation of the rule of law.’
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.
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-