Armenia Charges Ex-President's Brother In Financial Crime Probe

Armenian authorities say they have formally brought financial-crime charges against the brother of former President Serzh Sarkisian, one of a series of high-profile actions by law enforcement agencies against the ex-leader's close relatives.

Armenia's Special Investigation Service (SIS) said in a July 7 statement that Levon Sarkisian, his son Narek, and his daughter Ani have been charged with conducting illegal business activity.

Both Levon and Ani Sarkisian face forgery charges as well, according to the SIS, which said a court had issued an arrest warrant for the father.

The court also ordered a search for Ani Sarkisian but ruled that she and her brother would be allowed to sign a pledge not to leave the country in lieu of being held in pretrial detention, the SIS said.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian announced a crackdown on corruption after being elected prime minister on May 8.

His election came after Serzh Sarkisian, who had been president for 10 years, moved to the newly powerful post of prime minister in mid-April but stepped down after weeks of peaceful street protests led by Pashinian, then an opposition lawmaker.

Since then, Armenian authorities have launched criminal probes against two nephews of Sarkisian, the sons of a controversial brother of the ex-president, Aleksandr Sarkisian.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Armenian Service on July 6, Pashinian denied that Sarkisian's family is being selectively targeted by authorities, saying the cases against his relatives are being pursued on their legal merits and are not "political" in nature.

Armenia's State Revenue Committee opened a corruption-related criminal probe against Levon Sarkisian and his two children late last month after authorities said they discovered nearly $7 million they allegedly held in an Armenian bank and did not properly declare.