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Armenia's Ruling Party Advocates for Release of U.S. Tech CEO Amid Corruption Charges

Armenia's Ruling Party Advocates for Release of U.S. Tech CEO Amid Corruption Charges

Lawmakers from Armenia's ruling party, Civil Contract, have taken a stand to appeal for the release of the founder and two associates of a major Armenian software company.

Ashot Hovanesian, founder of Synergy International Systems, along with senior executive Lili Mkrian and former colleague Ani Gevorgian, were arrested last week on corruption charges related to an alleged fraudulent procurement tender organized by the Armenian Ministry of Economy.

The tender, which took place last summer, was won by Synergy but was subsequently invalidated by an Armenian court. Investigators claim that the Ministry of Economy unlawfully disqualified another IT firm with a lower bid. Last week, four ministry officials were detained, but unlike Hovanesian, Mkrian, and Gevorgian, they were either released or placed under house arrest in the following days.

Synergy International Systems, a U.S.-registered company, vehemently rejected the accusations against the detained individuals, demanding their immediate release. The Armenian Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE) also condemned Hovanesian's arrest, expressing concern about the impact of "unfounded" detentions on Armenia's reputation for local and foreign tech entrepreneurs.

Hayk Konjorian, leader of the Civil Contract's party parliamentary group, announced on Tuesday that lawmakers decided to petition the court for the release of the Synergy executives pending investigation. He emphasized that the decision was not influenced by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and reflected public reactions to the arrests. Konjorian clarified that the decision also took into account the family circumstances of Gevorgian and Mkrian, both having young children.

The arrest of Gevorgian, who is the sister-in-law of parliament speaker Alen Simonyan, has sparked speculation about potential political motives. Some commentators suggest that Pashinyan may have sanctioned the arrest to address falling approval ratings by demonstrating a strong stance against corruption. However, Pashinyan's allies have dismissed those claims.


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