YEREVAN -- Two former Armenian Defense Ministry officials have admitted to disclosing a secret government order paving the way for military involvement in suppressing the deadly 2008 opposition protests in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Armen Sarkisian, the former head of the ministry's construction department, and his subordinate Lyusia Ayvazian pleaded guilty to criminal charges during their trial in a Yerevan court.
The two were arrested earlier this year and accused of leaking the document to the pro-opposition daily "Haykakan zhamanak" in December.
The paper was quick to publish it, raising more questions about the use of deadly force against thousands of opposition protesters who barricaded themselves in the center of Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008.
Ten people were killed when opposition demonstrations against the election results were broken up.
The written directive was issued immediately after outgoing President Robert Kocharian ordered top security and military officials to thwart what he called attempts by his predecessor -- opposition leader and presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian -- to "seize power by illegal means."
Ter-Petrossian's Armenian National Congress called the leaked document illegal, saying that the so-called "administration of the garrison commander" assumed the powers of the army's General Staff in violation of the constitution.
But state prosecutors charged Sarkisian and Ayvazian with "disclosing a state secret." They demanded 2 1/2 years in jail for Sarkisian and an 18-month suspended sentence for Ayvazian at the start of the April 23 trial.
The lead prosecutor, Aram Amirzadian, told the court that Sarkisian obtained a photocopy of the secret ministerial order from Ayvazian in November last year, one year after being dismissed from the Defense Ministry. Ayvazian still worked for the ministry at that time.
Both defendants pleaded guilty to the accusations and asked the judge to conduct the trial under a so-called accelerated procedure. Sarkisian claimed that he did not know that the controversial directive was classified and not subject to publication.