By Naira Nalbandian and Karlen Aslanian
YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Gagik Jhangiryan, the controversial acting head of Armenia’s judicial watchdog, has dismissed calls for his resignation sparked by leaked audio in which he appeared to blackmail his predecessor at loggerheads with the government.
“I have never been forced by any political force, alliance to tender resignation,” the former senior prosecutor told Armenian Public Television in an interview aired late on Thursday, June 23.
Ruben Vartazaryan, the previous chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), publicized on Monday a 14-minute audio clip which he secretly recorded during a dinner meeting with Jhangiryan in February 2021. The meeting took place two months before Vartazaryan was controversially suspended as SJC chairman amid rising tensions with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
In the recording full of profanities uttered by him, Jhangiryan can be heard seemingly warning Vartazaryan to resign or face criminal charges. He says that he has already blocked the opening of one or two criminal cases against the latter.
Speaking to the state-controlled TV channel, Jhangiryan claimed that he was not in a position to trigger or halt any criminal proceedings and simply tried to trick Vartazaryan into resigning.