By Shakeh Avoyan
Gagik Poghosian, an aide to Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and a former minister for state revenues, was killed in a bomb explosion at his apartment in central Yerevan on Tuesday. Poghosian, 49, died on his way to hospital after the blast, caused by a hand grenade attached to its front door.
Police said the device went off at around 9 a.m. when the official opened the door as he left for work. The blast also seriously wounded Poghosian’s 19-year-old son, Khachik. Doctors at Yerevan’s Third Clinical Hospital said he is now recovering from abdominal injuries. “He is in a satisfactory condition, and nothing threatens his life,” one of them Petros Ananikian, told RFE/RL.
Witnesses said that after the explosion Poghosian was able to walk down to the ground floor of his apartment building before falling unconscious there. One man who helped carry him inside the hospital said: “He showed no signs of life. There were some spots on his face, his leg and hand were broken.”
A former businessman and a figure close to premier Markarian, Poghosian headed the government’s tax collecting agencies from May to October 2000. He later alleged widespread corruption and favoritism in the ministry for state revenues, harshly criticizing his successor Andranik Manukian, who was relieved of his duties and named minister of transport and communications in July after reported disagreements with the prime minister.
Also in July, Poghosian was appointed as head of Markarian’s oversight service and was reportedly investigating alleged abuses in the management of the country’s natural resources.
State prosecutors opened an inquiry into what they described as a “premeditated murder” but refused to suggest any clues as to who might have been behind it. There was no reaction from the prime minister’s office and other government bodies. A short government statement offered condolences to the victim’s family. It stopped short of describing Poghosian’s “tragic death” as an assassination.
Neighbors of the murdered official told reporters that Khachik Poghosian was usually the first person to leave the apartment in the morning and therefore more likely to set off the grenade. A third-year student of the Yerevan Institute of National Economy, he was scheduled to get married on September 22.
Poghosian is the first senior Armenian official murdered since the October 1999 shootings in the parliament.