Levon Hayrapetian is Nagorno-Karabakh's chief oligarch/criminal.
RFE/RL Armenia Report - 07/22/2014
Karabakh Lawmakers Call For Release Of Arrested Armenian Businessman
Members of Nagorno-Karabakh's legislature have called for an immediate
release of an ethnic Armenian businessman who was arrested in Russia
last week on suspicion of having ties with an organized criminal
All factions and groups of the self-proclaimed republic's 33-member
National Assembly on Tuesday issued a statement in which they
described Levon Hayrapetian, a native of Nagorno-Karabakh, as a great
patriot who has for years implemented numerous charity projects in his
homeland, contributing to its social and economic development.
"We are guided by the presumption of innocence, abstaining from
political evaluations," the Nagorno-Karabakh lawmakers emphasized. "We
consider that the body conducting the investigation should urgently
change the measure of restraint [used against Hayrapetian] and release
him, considering Hayrapetian's health problems."
The Karabakh politicians expressed their conviction that "as a
law-abiding citizen and a highly educated person, Levon Hayrapetian,
while being out of prison, will provide comprehensive assistance to
the investigation and will be useful in clarifying the issues of
interest to the Russian Investigative Committee."
They said they considered what happened to the Armenian businessman as
a `regrettable misunderstanding', expressing their conviction that
Russian law-enforcement bodies will be able to carry out an "objective
and comprehensive investigation that will prove Hayrapetian's
Nagorno-Karabakh Prime Minister Ara Harutiunian also told reporters in
Stepanakert that they expect Hayrapetian to be released soon. He said
that Karabakh authorities are "dealing with the case" and expressed
his conviction that the businessman is not responsible for the crimes
he is accused of.
Hayrapetian, 65, was arrested by Russian Federal Security Service
officials on July 15. Last Thursday, a Moscow court allowed the
businessman's two-month imprisonment while investigators conduct a
probe into his alleged criminal connections and involvement in some
illegal financial dealings. Official charges against Hayrapetian are
expected to be brought on July 24.
Hayrapetian's case also elicited mixed reactions in Armenia and
Nagorno-Karabakh last week. While officials in Yerevan provided terse
comments and would not be drawn into speculations about any political
motives behind the arrest, some opposition figures, families and
friends of the businessman spoke openly about such a possibility.
Hayrapetian is considered to be one of the wealthiest Armenians in the
world. He is known to have invested millions of dollars into
developing Nagorno-Karabakh's infrastructure and renovating the area's
historical-cultural monuments. His charity included a mass wedding for
700 Karabakhi couples in 2008 and sponsorship of the construction of a
military college in Martakert.
Some of the businessman's friends, such as Major-General Arkady
Ter-Tadevosian, one of the Armenian commanders in the 1992-1994 war in
Nagorno-Karabakh nicknamed Komandos, have even alleged an `Azerbaijani
scheme' behind the arrest, saying that its aim is to harm
Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian-Russian relations.
Ter-Tadevosian, other retired military men as well as public figures
staged an action in support of Hayrapetian in Yerevan on Tuesday. They
said they believed that Russia's political leadership was not
connected with what they considered to be a case fabricated against
the Armenian businessman by Russian and Azerbaijani special services.