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Former Opposition MP and Yerevan Hospital Director Charged with Voter Coercion

Former Opposition MP and Yerevan Hospital Director Charged with Voter Coercion

Today, a Yerevan court found Armen Charchyan, former deputy of the 'Armenia' faction in the National Assembly and director of Izmirlyan Medical Center, guilty of voter coercion during the country's 2021 snap parliamentary election, resulting in a sentence of 3 years and 7 months' imprisonment.

Charchyan, a once prominent figure in Armenian politics, faced charges after a recording surfaced online, capturing him allegedly pressuring employees of the medical center to participate in the elections. The court considered the severity of the offense and opted not to apply a suspended prison sentence, instead imposing a probationary period of 3 years.

The incident leading to Charchyan's arrest unfolded on June 18, when a video circulated on the internet showed him urging, demanding, and even threatening medical center staff to partake in the elections. The prosecution argued that those who refused to comply would face adverse treatment from the hospital's management.

Following his initial arrest on June 18, Charchyan was released on June 20 after the court examined his defense's complaint. Despite being a candidate for parliament, the Prosecutor's Office successfully petitioned the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to initiate criminal proceedings against him. The CEC's decision led to Charchyan's subsequent arrest and a subsequent release on a 15 million bail. However, he was arrested again on August 23.

Throughout the legal proceedings, Charchyan maintained his innocence, with the hospital director rejecting the voter coercion charge. The court's final ruling included a restraining order against him, restricting him from leaving the country.

Charchyan, once a member of the opposition Hayastan Alliance, had been vying for a parliamentary seat in the 2021 elections. Alongside twenty-eight other alliance candidates, he secured a position in the Armenian National Assembly. However, Charchyan resigned from parliament months ago, leaving behind a legacy tarnished by legal controversies.

As the verdict was announced, Charchyan was given three years' probation, a decision likely to be appealed by the hospital director. 


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