Armenian Oligarch’s Staff Allegedly Implicated in Animal Cruelty Scandal

Facebook users today posted links to a video shot at what is alleged to be the private zoo of oligarch MP Gagik Tsarukian. Better known to most Armenians by his nickname, Dodi Gago, Tsarukian is believed to be Armenia’s wealthiest citizen even if his tax returns reportedly suggest the contrary.

The former world arm-wrestling champion is also head of the second largest political party in the Armenian National Assembly as well as the President of the Armenian National Olympic Committee.

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No stranger to controversy, especially given reports in the local press which allegedly link his bodyguards to shoot-outs and the beating of journalists, the latest scandal reportedly linked to members of his entourage saw the light of day via Twitter.

The video was quickly removed after the first posts were made on Facebook and links were quickly re-tweeted. The video has since rematerialized on Daily Motion. Unzipped sums up the feelings of most who have seen the video so far.

Thanks to a tweet by @GoldenTent, I came across this link to the YouTube video, which alleges that Armenian oligarch and head of ruling Bargavatch Hayastan (‘Properous Armenia’) party Gagik Tsarukyan stages this fight between his lions and a donkey. (or it was staged at his ‘private zoo’)

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This is so disgusting that at first I could not force myself watching beyond the first few seconds. Then I forced myself… I felt physically sick after watching this video.

Any country, any society which has any prospect of calling itself a “civilised” should ban these sorts of outrageous displays of animal cruelty, and perpetrators should be held responsible before the law.

In February, a YouTube video highlighting illegal hunting in an Armenian nature reserve resulted in the dismissal of the head warden. However, if the video shows what many allege it does, it remains to be seen whether any action will follow.