Armenia arrests ‘richest’ opposition leader for possible vote-buying

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Gagik Tsarukyan, opposition leader and one of the richest residents of Armenia, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of buying votes in the 2017 elections.

Election results turned into a fiasco

Tsarukyan will remain in jail for at least two months, report Armenian media. Prosecutors feared he might otherwise influence the trial in the meantime.

As a former oligarch, the 63-year-old Tsarukyan is one of the richest inhabitants of Armenia. He runs several alcohol companies. He is also a former world champion arm wrestling.

Tsarukyan says he is innocent and says the charges against him are politically motivated. He is the leader of Prosperous Armenia, the second largest party in parliament.

In June, parliament withdrew his immunity so that he could be prosecuted. On Friday, a court in the Armenian capital Yerevan authorized his arrest.

In the 2017 elections, his Prosperous Armenia received 27 percent of the vote. However, the largest parties could not agree among themselves.

After weeks of massive protests against corruption, current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan came to power with the agreement of delegates. Because Pashinyan felt that the government was not a reflection of society, he decided to organize new elections that year.

In those elections, Tsarukyan’s party won 26 seats in the 132-member parliament. Pashinyan could stay on as prime minister.

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