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Armenian Opposition Refuses To Cooperate With Unrest Probe

HAK spokesman Arman Musinian
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), one of Armenia's most influential opposition groupings, has refused to cooperate with the ad hoc parliament commission conducting a probe into last year's postelection unrest in clarifying HAK allegations that "illegal armed groups" were used to suppress street demonstrations in Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008.

The HAK reiterated today that from the very outset it has not recognized the parliamentary commission as a "competent and legitimate" body to conduct the probe.

On August 28, the commission urged the HAK to provide evidence to corroborate its claim that military uniforms from government stocks were issued without authorization to several senior officials on the day of the clashes. Ten people died in the violence and many more were injured.

Two opposition members of an alternative fact-finding body -- established last fall by President Serzh Sarkisian but dissolved in late April due to infighting -- incorporated that claim into their latest report, which was submitted to the parliamentary commission last week. The HAK insisted that it had received the information from a reliable source, but stopped short of disclosing that source, citing security reasons.

HAK spokesman Arman Musinian confirmed to RFE/RL that the opposition alliance had received a letter from the commission's chairman, Samvel Nikoyan, asking it to appoint a representative who would participate in related discussions. But Musinian said that the HAK "considers any participation in the commission's work unnecessary."

He added that the HAK provided all the information it possessed to the alternative fact-finding group, and he called on the parliament commission "to do its job" by checking the veracity of this information.

The HAK claims that nine senior state officials, including four members of parliament, received a total of 950 military uniforms from the Defense Ministry on March 1, 2008, and implies that that clothing might have been worn by their bodyguards and other security personnel allegedly involved in reprisals against civilians. Only senior pro-government parliament deputy Gagik Tsarukian has so far denied this accusation.

Meanwhile, parliamentary commission Chairman Nikoyan responded to the HAK statement by "thanking" it for reminding the commission what its duties are.

"And what are your duties?" he asked RFE/RL in a rhetorical question addressed to the HAK. "Is it disseminating misinformation and then refraining from further activities?"

Artsvik Minasian, a commission member from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun), said he hopes law enforcement bodies will take action in connection with the report submitted by the two opposition members of the fact-finding group.

"I hope that the prosecutors and the Special Investigation Service will provide a concrete answer on this account. The leadership of the Republic of Armenia is being accused of setting up illegal armed groups. This means that prosecutors must investigate the claim, and if they find sufficient grounds, they must launch criminal proceedings. Otherwise, they must disprove it," Minasian said.

-- Anush Martirosian

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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