By Ruzanna Stepanian
Two opposition supporters will go on trial soon for allegedly exposing two undercover agents of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) present at a post-election opposition rally in Yerevan, prosecutors said on Friday.
The NSS officers were exposed in Yerevan’s Liberty Square late on February 27 during the non-stop protests staged there by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. They apparently had recording devices on them. Those were put on display in a nearby café where the two young agents were forcibly taken by opposition activists before being handed over to senior police officers.
Ter-Petrosian and his associates claimed that they were caught red-handed while urging protesters camped in the square to take violent actions against the government with the aim of substantiating government claims that the opposition is bent on seizing power by force. The NSS denied this, saying that its employees were in fact helping to ensure the security of the protesters.
According to the Office of the Prosecutor-General, the NSS agents were recognized and exposed by Tigran Melkonian and Levon Khachatrian, former officers of the Armenian successor to the Soviet KGB who took part in Ter-Petrosian rallies. A spokeswoman for the office, Sona Truzian, said they thereby broke a written pledge not to reveal the identity of undercover NSS operatives which they had signed while quitting the feared security agency.
“That amounts to a disclosure of a state secret which is punishable by criminal law,” Truzian told RFE/RL. She said both men are currently under arrest and will soon be tried on a relevant charge.
Melkonian and Khachatrian work for a major Armenian bank owned by Khachatur Sukiasian, a fugitive parliament deputy and wealthy businessman close to Ter-Petrosian.