Armenian parliament sanctions opposition leader’s arrest

International

FILE – In this file photo dated Sunday, May 6, 2012, Armenia Party President Gagik Tsarukyan during parliamentary elections in Yerevan, Armenia. The Armenian parliament has voted to strip the leader of an opposition party Gagik Tsarukyan of his immunity as a lawmaker and to allow his arrest on tax evasion charges. (Varo Rafaelyan / PanARMENIAN via AP)

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — The Armenian parliament voted Tuesday to strip the leader of an opposition party of his immunity as a lawmaker and to allow his arrest on tax evasion charges.

Gagik Tsarukyan, a tycoon who leads the Prosperous Armenia party, has denounced the criminal charges against him as a political vendetta for his call for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation.

Members of Pashinian’s party, which dominates the parliament, voted unanimously to revoke Tsarukyan’s immunity and then to sanction his arrest.

Tsarykyan’s party, which holds 25 of the Armenian parliament’s 132 seats, and another smaller opposition party boycotted the vote.

Police detained several dozen Tsarykyan supporters who rallied in a park outside parliament to protest the move.

Prosecutors accused Tsarukyan of conducting unlicensed gambling activities that deprived the government of revenue.

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