In Armenia, the scandal with cigarette smuggling to Russia, in which the Prime Minister of the country Nikola Pashinyan was involved, is gaining momentum.
According to the Free Press, two planes with smuggled cigarettes from Armenia were detained in The Krasnodar Region and Voronezh in April and May 2020. Armenian media found out that The brother of Nikola Pashinyan’s wife, Grach Hakobyan, nephew of the prime minister, MP Sipan Pashinyan, as well as Nikola Pashinyan’s wife Anna Hakobyan, were behind the illegal transportation.
“The cigarette business has been going on for about two years. Armenia has been part of the international mafia system for two years, and huge sums go directly to Nikola Pashinyan’s family budget,” says Mikael Minasyan, Armenia’s former ambassador to the Vatican.
According to him, a cunning scheme of registration of goods as consumer goods was used for smuggling.
Minasyan also said that after unsuccessful attempts to smuggle cigarettes to Krasnodar and Voronezh, Pashinyan’s family decided to start supplying to Abkhazia, and from there to sell goods in Russia.
Armenian media claim that without the cover of influential persons in both Russia and Armenia, it would be impossible to smuggle 40,000 tons of tobacco products at the height of the pandemic. In addition, it is alleged that after the stop of the two planes, Anshak Karapetyan, an adviser to Nikola Pashinyan, flew to Russia, which, thanks to personal connections, managed to hush up the diplomatic scandal.
The media also note that the fact of the Armenian origin of smuggling is confirmed by official statistics, according to which Armenia in 2019 began to consume 10% more cigarettes than a year earlier.
“Either Armenian citizens are increasingly smoking, or more likely, products are smuggled, and mainly to Russia,” the journalists concluded.
As Rambler reported, Nikol Pashinyan took over as Prime Minister of Armenia on May 8, 2018. His wife, Anna Hakobyan, is the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Aikakan Jamanak.