Saturday, 22 September

Tense Atmosphere Reigns in Akhtala Due to Sex Scandal

Local residents tight-lipped about Der-Boghossian allegations 

The atmosphere was pretty tense in Akhtala yesterday. Local residents kept a safe distance from the barrage of reporters and camera teams that had descended on the town in the wake of the sex scandal involving Metal Prince CEO Serop Der-Boghossian. 

The company has been spreading rumours that workers at the Mining Enrichment Combinat could be out of a job if Der-Boghossian, a U.S. citizen facing charges of paedophilia, was forced to leave. Management has been trying to convince residents that a local Armenian businessman doesn’t have what it takes to operate the plant.

A Hetq source within Metal Prince says that Der-Boghossian’s most vociferous and active support comes from those receiving the highest wages. Plant management has even set up monitoring of the comings and goings within the town. I got a totally different reaction from Aram Margaryan when I returned to Akhtala yesterday. On my first visit on January 29, the man was kind enough to point out the house of the boy appearing in the video tape with Der-Boghossian. This time, he nearly blew up when he spotted me. "You know the mess I’ve gotten into just for showing you that house. Now, if Serop goes these people will die from hunger. I want nothing to do with you." A local resident who wished to remain anonymous said that he had always heard the allegations about Der-Boghossian’s sexual escapades but that he couldn’t comment as to their veracity.

"The specialists have to be called in. But I tell you one thing. There are a lot of snot-nosed kids around here who all of a sudden walk around like lords," he said. We were also told that the police took in several boys for questioning yesterday to Vanadzor. We also found out the name of the boy appearing in the infamous tape. We’ve decided to withhold his name and other details to see how the case progresses. Lernik Jijilyan, the local school principal, told us that the boy hasn’t attended classes since January of last year. Mr. Jijilyan says that he remembers another of Serop Der-Boghossian’s "boys" that also had a poor record of absenteeism. He claims that the boy’s parents petitioned the Education Ministry and that the boy eventually graduated. We sought out Akhtala Mayor Hayk Khachikyan to hear what he had to say. We asked what he thought about the comments made by Der-Boghossian that those accusing him were doing it out of spite and jealousy.

"Development of the Mining Enrichment Plant is vital for all of us. Why should we be jealous? Do you really believe that I goaded him on to hand over a tape to the police? I really have no personal ties with Vahram Parsadanyan, but know he was in debt up to $30,000. He was in a tight spot and this motivated his actions. I’m just a common elected mayor that may not win next time around. Maybe Serop believes we want to take over the plant? We don’t have the resources. Anyway, the plant is the result of his vision." Mayor Khachikyan says the issue must be resolved but that the prospect for this remains murky. "I don’t think the issue will be completely resolved. Thus, many people, especially the plant workers, are avoiding speaking out on the matter." Mayor Khachikyan said it was a damn shame that his town and its residents were being associated with such a scandal.

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