The Armenian Parliament has stripped Seyran Ohanyan, the parliamentary leader of Armenia’s largest opposition faction and a former minister of defence, of his parliamentary immunity.
Members of the ruling party voted to strip the Armenia Alliance leader of his immunity on Wednesday, in a session boycotted by members of the opposition.
Ohanyan, who served as minister of defence between 2008 and 2016, was charged two years ago with abuse of power and embezzlement of state funds and property while in government.
The Armenia Alliance, the largest opposition bloc in parliament, maintains that Ohanyan’s prosecution was politically motivated.
Ohanyan is suspected of illegally approving the sale of a military base’s land plot owned by the ministry below market value to be used as colleteral for a loan.
He was additionally implicated in a classified case pertaining to providing faulty ammunition supplies to the Armenian military.
However, Prosecutor General Anna Vardapetyan has stated that Ohanyan might not receive a prison sentence if convicted because the cases would have passed their statute of limitations.
Ohanyan was elected the parliamentary leader of the Armenia Alliance following 2021 snap elections. The bloc, founded and led by former president Robert Kocharyan, includes the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and several other independent MPs.
‘Let them vote and deprive [me of immunity]. We do not avoid investigations,’ Ohanyan said in a video message last week. He accused the ruling Civil Contract party of trying to ‘distract’ the population from other issues in the country.
‘If they want to organise a theatre in the parliament, let them. It will be the theatre of one provincial actor — Civil Contract. We will not participate in it.’
The Armenian Parliament is also set to vote on stripping the immunity of Armen Charchyan, another Armenia Alliance MP, to prosecute him over the alleged falsification of medical reports in 2017.