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Armenian authorities issued an indictment on Monday for Narek Sargsyan, the nephew of the former President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, on charges of kidnapping and assault. Narek, 31, was already wanted by the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) over allegations of fraud.
According to officials, the August 2017 attack on a 49-year-old resident of Yerevan was in relation to the man’s plans to open a nightclub in the Armenian capital. The victim, whose name was not disclosed, was allegedly invited to meet Narek but was instead kidnapped from central Yerevan and taken to Sargsyan’s house. Police claim Narek assaulted him, threatened him at gunpoint, and tortured him with a lighter in the basement of his residence. Authorities say abductors later took the victim to another location, beat him up again, and left him after he promised to drop his nightclub business.
Narek’s chief bodyguard, Artem Poghosyan, who is accused of inviting the victim to the meeting, has been detained as a suspect in another investigation related to his former boss. Narek, the 31-year-old son of former President Serzh Sargsyan’s brother Aleksandr (Sashik), is wanted internationally by Armenian authorities is accused of stealing 14 artworks by prominent Armenian painter Martiros Saryan from one of his heirs in 2013. Narek allegedly promised to pay $28,000 and to establish a casino with the victim, but later went back on his promise and refused to return the paintings.
The NSS said they had located the artworks during a search of Sargsyan’s house, where they also found $155,000 and €27,000 in cash, valuable watches, golden coins and ornaments. The NSS said they are currently determining if the items were acquired legally. Authorities said that also discovered a substance in one of Narek’s premises that could be an illegal drug. Narek’s father, Alexander Sargsyan, was taken by police for questioning in a related investigation but released later.
On 25 June the NSS arrested two men the authorities allege were Narek’s associates, carrying suitcases containing cocaine and methamphetamines, four pistols and a silencer, bullets, pipes with traces of an unnamed substance, and a medical drip supposedly used for taking drugs intravenously.
The NSS said Narek, accompanied by his bodyguard Artem Poghosyan, left Armenia to Europe via Russia on 22 June. On 10 July, Poghosyan returned to Yerevan and surrendered to police.
On 12 July, Armenian authorities detained Hayk Sargsyan, another son of Sashik Sargsyan, at Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan as he tried to flee the country for France. A week prior to his arrest, the Armenian Prosecutor's Office reopened an investigation into a 2007 shooting after the victim, Davit Simonyan, named Hayk as the real shooter.
Another brother of Serzh Sargsyan’s, Levon, as well as his children, are wanted for possible tax evasion and illicit enrichment.
[Read more about the investigation on OC Media: Ex–Armenian president’s relatives under investigation for tax fraud]