By Artem Chernamorian in Gyumri
An Armenian opposition leader admitted on Tuesday that he and other close associates of assassinated prime minister Vazgen Sarkisian suspect President Robert Kocharian of having masterminded the October 1999 terrorist attack on the parliament.
But Albert Bazeyan, who is a leading member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, made it clear that he has no hard evidence to implicate Kocharian in the murder of Sarkisian and seven other officials. The comments were made during a meeting with Hanrapetutyun supporters in the northern city of Gyumri.
Bazeyan and other Hanrapetutyun leaders used to be part of a powerful governing faction that made inroads on the president in the months that followed the parliament shootings. They have implicitly held Kocharian and his most trusted confidant, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, responsible for the massacre. Bazeyan’s statement was their first public admission of their suspicion.
“Yes, I do suspect that Robert and Serzh had a hand in that affair,” the former mayor of Yerevan said, responding to a question from the audience.
“But I can not be guided by mere suspicion,” he added.
Military prosecutors investigating the parliament attack had also suspected the presidential entourage of involvement but never found any link between Kocharian and the five perpetrators of the crime. This fact predetermined the outcome of the post-attack infighting in the Armenian leadership.
Hanrapetutyun leaders assured supporters that they will try to remove Kocharian from power in next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Bazeyan alleged that the president can secure a second five-year term in office only through a “huge-scale vote falsification.”