The Armenian National Assembly yesterday voted in favor of a request from the Prosecutor General, Aghvan Hovsepyan, to lift the parliamentary immunity of former foreign minister and member of parliament from Prosperous Armenia Vartan Oskanian, in order that he may be involved as a witness in a criminal lawsuit on money laundering. The decision was taken with 64 votes for and six against. One ballot was considered invalid.
This follows a criminal case launched on May 25 following an investigation by the National Security Service into money laundering by the Civiltas Foundation which was founded by Oscanian when he left the Foreign Ministry in 2008.
The issue has split the Armenian political elite. The members of the Prosperous Armenia faction walked out of Parliament after they had spoken against the resolution to lift Oscanian's parliamentary immunity. They also called for the resignation of the Prosecutor General. Other opposition parties either voted against or boycotted the session.
The case has also attracted a lot of interest amongst foreign diplomats in Yerevan. The heads of several diplomatic missions met with Oscanian a few days ago to discuss the case.
Oscanian is seen as a potential rival for current president Serzh Sargsyan in the forthcoming presidential elections in early 2013.
photo: Vartan Oscanian (archive picture)
A raft of issues are complicating relations between long time allies Turkey and the United States. But both sides continue using diplomatic back-channels to get as many concessions as possible from each other without fatally harming bilateral relations, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed