Vardan Ghukasyan's son in custody

Several news sources report that Gumri mayor Vardan Ghukasyan’s son – Spartak Ghukasyan, has handed himself to authorities late last week. Spartak Ghukasyan had gone into hiding after apparently initiating a high profile shootout in the city center back in May. The incident, which involved the son of a Bargavach Hayastan (Prosperous Armenia) party member and injured several civilian bystanders, rocked the city and made headline news in the country. In what is to be considered an exceptional case, the authorities were compelled to display force by commissioning special police units into the city.
Aravot cites unnamed sources suggesting that Vardan Ghukasyan had received an ultimatum on surrendering his son, from the president, otherwise risking loosing his post. The daily further suggests that pressure was also applied by the prime minister. The fact that Spartak Ghukasyan handed himself over to authorities appears to confirm this information.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. I posted about this a few days ago and what I consider to be one of the most alarming aspects of this story if true — the disappearance and possible cover-up of the death of a young boy who went missing at the same time as the shoot out.

  2. Onnik – as you probably remember, I tried to find out something about this, and even spent a whole day in Gyumri talking to police, media people, etc. However, much as I would want to find more faults with that idiot – the Gyumri mayor and his kin, I wasn’t able to do so. Hence, I decided to settle down and wait for more details to emerge.
    There is still no proof, that the death of Robert Simonyan is connected with the famous shootout, and although I see the clear logic in your post, putting together the facts and asking the questions, I am inclined to wait a little longer, before protesting more loudly.

  3. I also want to speak about my latest observation from the trip to Gyumri. Much as I dislike the Mayor – Vardan Ghukasyan, I have to state, that the Gyumri Municipality is delivering much better services to its citizens, than the Yerevan one.
    The green areas in the town are cared for, and although all of them are owned by Gyumri mayor’s relatives, they are at least preserved in a much greater extent then those in Yerevan.
    The sanitation in Gyumri is also better (less people, but also better organized garbage collection).
    Road construction, which is done in a miserable scale compared to that of Yerevan, is at least carried out in a timely manner and without blocking all major crossroads at once.
    I also spoke to the head of “Asparez” Journalists’ Club, who had recently initiated a project to promote the law on Freedom of Information. According to Levon Barseghyan, the chairmen of the Club’s council, the municipality has been among the most responsive among all the local self-government bodies in the Shirak region, with whom the club had worked.
    From my own experience of working at World Vision Gyumri ADP and the Urban Institute back in 1999-2003, I can also state, that the mayor is very helpful and supportive when working with international donors and NGOs.
    So it turns out he is not such a bad mayor after all!

  4. There is still no proof, that the death of Robert Simonyan is connected with the famous shootout,

    My personal opinion is that when a child goes missing at the same time as a shooting and is found a month later in an area the police searched earlier but found nothing and when that child was apparently killed by a grenade or something in an abandoned house when nobody in the area reported the sound of an explosion, I’d suggest that civil society started asking questions first rather than wait. That’s the problem in Armenia nowadays, and when you consider that the police are unlikely to investigate the matter properly anyway given that it would involve the son of the local mayor, I’d suggest it’s even a bigger mistake. Even in democratic societies, people and the media would be asking questions now which is why I’m glad A1 Plus and RFE/RL. Otherwise, we’d discover nothing and there would be no pressure on the police to investigate the matter properly.
    A boy went missing and died at the very same time as a shootout between the relatives of the Mayor and other significant figures in the area. Society should be DEMANDING answers now and not waiting. Sorry to say, I think this is a sad reflection on how Armenian society actually works and functions.

    So it turns out he is not such a bad mayor after all!

    Hmm, you mean apart from the shootouts and killings. Yeah, I can see that to be the case.

  5. And actually, given that the boy’s disappearance did coincide with the shootout and the circumstances of the body’s discover is mysterious to say the least, I would think it quite natural to report it now rather than later while pointing out that the police don’t seem to be interested in examining the possibility of a link between the two incidents.
    Actually, I think what has happened is that the boy died, and unlike most countries which have a functioning society, nobody here seems to care. Well, I suppose that’s the case for most things. A child’s life is hardly going to change that reality, I suppose. Again, full marks to A1 Plus and RFE/RL for giving a damn and mentioning the boy’s disappearance and death in anything related to the shootout.
    In my opinion, it would have been perfectly natural and actually expected for anyone covering news of Ghukasyan’s detention to mention it even if to state that there is so far no evidence to prove that the it’s related. It’s a story that should not be allowed to be swept under the rug until the full details are known, and in any society that information only comes when the story is kept in the limelight and journalists (and bloggers) keep asking questions.

  6. Sorry, to explain, as you can see I’m very perturbed by this case. As a parent I would have to be given that if this boy’s death was the result of a gunfight or speeding vehicle related to that incident, this could happen to my son too and there would probably be no justice. Actually, the same goes for anyone of you out there with children or young relatives or hell, anyone who cares about the safety of children in Armenia.

  7. Onnik – re my attitude to the Gyumri mayor – take a look to my previous post here. The fact is – I can’t stand him, that is one of the reasons, why I had decided to avoid covering the developments around Robert Simonyan’s murder – because I’m totally biased when it comes to the mayor of Gyumri. I wish he’d burn on fire – to say the least!
    Only 30 minutes before the hideous shootout took place in Gyumri, my dad had driven his car (my son and mother in the car), via Teryan street. I find it hard to explain just how much worried, frustrated and angry I was when I heard of this, and the following events.
    I accept your criticism for not covering the issue properly, but will probably wait just a little longer, it is somewhat too personal for me.
    As to the guy’s being a good mayor – I’m taking all my words back. Was just trying to counter-balance myself when making that comment. Criminals like that have nothing to do at any level of government in any country.

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