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Armenian Businessman Says Charges Against Him Politically Motivated

Saribek Sukiasian

Saribek Sukiasian

YEREVAN -- An Armenian entrepreneur says his recent arrest for an alleged death threat is linked to the political views held by him and his brother, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Saribek Sukiasian was detained on February 12 along with business partner Artash Stepanian on suspicion of illegal weapons possession and threatening to kill another entrepreneur.

Sukiasian is the younger brother of prominent businessman and former parliament deputy Khachatur Sukiasian, who is facing criminal charges for his alleged role in the deadly March 2008 clashes after the disputed presidential election.

Police released Saribek Sukiasian and Stepanian on February 15 after the expiration of a 72-hour period during which suspects can be kept in custody without being formally charged.

Saribek Sukiasian and Stepanian, the director of Yerevan's Ayarat market, signed a written pledge not to leave Yerevan while the charges against them are investigated.

Sukiasian told RFE/RL on February 16 he wants to thank "those who did not believe this lie [regarding the charges against him]." He added that his lawyers are dealing with the case and will "settle all matters."

Sukiasian believes the reprisals against his family were motivated by political considerations which have "economic consequences."

In the fall of 2007, Khachatur Sukiasian announced his support for former President Levon Ter-Petrossian in the February 2008 presidential election. The authorities responded by accusing him of tax evasion and confiscating several companies he owned.