Bienvenue!: Jacques Chirac, French celebrities expected in Armenia

The president of France, Jacques Chirac, is expected to visit Armenia September 29 to officially open the Year of France in Armenia.

Preliminary information is that Chirac would be in Armenia from September 29 to October 1.

Mary Hakobyan, press secretary of the Embassy of France in Armenia, told ArmeniaNow: “We are informed that Jacques Chirac has expressed his desire to visit Armenia, but no official declaration confirming the visit has been issued so far.”

It would be the first visit to Armenia by Chirac (no French president has ever visited Armenia or even the South Caucasus ), head of state to some 450,000 Diaspora in France.

According to widespread information, singer/actor Charles Aznavour, singer Patricia Caas and other celebrities would be accompanying the president during his visit.

“In the coming days we are expecting the official declaration about the visit,” Hakobyan said. “We don’t know for sure if Patricia Caas will come or no, but we have information that a number of celebrities will be visiting Armenia together with the president.”

According to the Embassy of France in Armenia, part of the delegation’s visit would include open-air concerts in Republic Square.

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News Update:  According to at least one media report, on Monday evening police arrested Andranik Charchyan, the driver of the vehicle in which Shahen Hovasapyan was killed last Wednesday, when the car exploded from a device that had been planted under the seat where Hovasapyan was sitting. Hovasapyan was head of the investigative division of the State Tax Service of Armenia.

Charchyan (as well as Hovasapyan’s son, Grigor) was also injured in the blast that heavily damaged his Volga sedan.

 “Fourth Power” newspaper reported the arrest, however a spokesperson for the General Prosecutor’s Office would neither confirm nor deny the information but told ArmeniaNow it would be making a statement later.

According to the newspaper report, police took the driver into custody, while speculation has spread in Yerevan that the director of the “tax police” was prepared to publish information that could be damaging to some members of Yerevan’s power elite.

It is believed that Hovasapyan was investigating alleged corruption linked to the failure to pay taxes on properties belonging to high-ranking officials.