Unease in parliament over jailing of Armenia bloc candidates

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Unease in parliament over jailing of Armenia bloc candidates

YEREVAN, AUGUST 2, ARMENPRESS. The first session of the new parliament isn’t proceeding smoothly as the opposition argues that the rules of procedure are being violated because two of their colleagues – the ex-mayor of Meghri Mkhitar Zakaryan and ex-mayor of Sisian Artur Sargsyan who ran for parliament under the Armenia alliance- are not in attendance because they are jailed. Lawmakers from the majority counter that the two have been jailed before receiving the parliamentary mandate and are calling for order.

Zakaryan and Sargsyan are jailed on charges of abuse of power and fraud. They deny wrongdoing.

“We are in an unusual situation, there hasn’t been a convocation like this where two colleagues were under arrest and are unable to participate in a session and fulfill their duties,” MP Armen Rustamyan from opposition Armenia bloc said. “We don’t have the right to move forward with a gross violation of the rules of procedure,” he added.

Rustamyan said the absence of their colleagues is not only an infringement against the lawmakers but disrespect against the parliament because during this session the committees and the leadership of the legislative are expected to be formed. He said the jailed MPs are deprived of the opportunity to vote or be elected if they are not participating.

MP Vladimir Vardanyan from Civil Contract party noted that lawmakers have parliamentary immunity but in this case the suspected wrongdoing committed by the two politicians has taken place prior of them getting their mandates. “And as candidates, their immunity was violated by the decisions of the central electoral commission,” he said.

He called on the opposition to allow the session to proceed and form the parliamentary bodies, after which all issues will be debated.

Vardanyan underscored that the parliament cannot influence the justice system and cannot consider itself higher that the decision of a court.

Armenia bloc MP Aram Vardevanyan took the floor as envisaged by the rules of procedure and countered Vardanyan’s arguments. “I am so sorry that Vladimir Vardanyan, by very well realizing Article 96 of the Constitution, which doesn’t envisage any exception for overcoming parliamentary immunity by any other mechanism, is speaking about some prosecutor or a judge bypassing the Constitution.”

The opposition I Have the Honor bloc announced it is joining Armenia bloc in their demand.

The session adjourned for 20 minutes.

Editing and Translating by Stepan Kocharyan


Armenia, Yerevan, 0002, Martiros Saryan 22


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