Following charges of embezzlement and improper use of state aircraft for private purposes, Armenia’s third President Serzh Sargsyan is now accused of taking bribes.
After the revolution in 2018, Silva Hambardzumyan, an Armenian businesswoman, told reporters that she gave bribes to the state officials in order to secure permission to start a business in the mining industry.
Shortly thereafter, charges were laid against Armenia’s Second President Robert Kocharyan, his chief of staff and current opposition MP Armen Gevorgyan, as well as businessperson and Kocharyan ally Samvel Mayrapetyan.
While Hambardzumyan also named Sargsyan as a recipient of the bribes he has not faced criminal charges in the case until now.
This is Sargsyan’s third set of major criminal charges.
In 2020 he was charged with embezzling ֏490 million ($1 million) from state coffers. The money was allegedly diverted through a state assistance programme from the Ministry of Agriculture that was intended to provide farmers with diesel fuel.
Sargsyan was charged alongside businessman Barsegh Beglaryan and three former Agriculture Ministry officials, including former Minister Sergo Karapetyan.
[Read more: Armenia's ex-President Serzh Sargsyan goes on trial]
The second set of charges against Sargsyan were announced in October after Fact Investigation Platform (FIP), a Yerevan-based investigative and fact-checking organisation, made public information about repeated trips Sargsyan made to the German spa town of Baden-Baden while he was president.
According to the investigation, Sargsyan visited Baden-Baden at least 15 times over a ten year period, often as a stopover on official state trips.