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U.S. Ambassador Voices Concern Over Armenia's Oskanian Charges

Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian attends a public event at the Civilitas Foundation in Yerevan in February 2011.
YEREVAN -- U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern says criminal charges filed against former Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian are "bad for justice and democracy in Armenia."

Oskanian was summoned to the National Security Service on October 8 and formally charged with misappropriation of some $1.4 million donated by a U.S. philanthropist to Oskanian's Yerevan-based Civilitas Foundation in late 2010.

Oskanian denies the charges, calling them politically motivated and aimed at derailing chances for his Prosperous Armenia party ahead of a presidential election scheduled for February 2013.

Heffern also mentioned the timing of the charges against Oskanian were "troubling."

Heffern called on the Armenian government to "live up to its commitments to the systematic, fair, and transparent implementation of the rule of law."