By Karine Kalantarian
A prominent Karabakh war veteran and member of Armenia’s parliament arrested following the post-election clashes in Yerevan says he does not regret his decision “not to leave the people” for which, he says, he ended up in jail.
“I had embarked on the right path. I don’t regret that I am here today. Time will come when everything will be clear as to why I am here,” Sasun Mikaelian said, speaking to RFE/RL in prison Friday.
Mikaelian along with two other pro-Ter-Petrosian parliament members are currently kept in custody on charges of “mass disturbances” and “usurpation of power” in the wake of the February 19 presidential election. All allege political reasons for their arrests and detention.
After the arrest of Mikaelian, hundreds of his supporters, including his voters in a suburb of Armenia’s central town of Hrazdan as well as numerous fellow war veterans, held protest actions and hunger strikes in support of the jailed parliamentarian in his native town.
On Tuesday, Mikaelian, along with another jailed parliament member Myasnik Malkhasian, was nominated by the parliament’s opposition to serve on an ad hoc body set up to look into the circumstances of the post-election violence. The nomination, however, was later rejected as unacceptable since both lawmakers formally continue to represent the ruling Republican Party’s parliamentary faction and under the commission’s regulations cannot be nominated as its members from another faction.
“Being a member of the Republican Party I wasn’t a puppet there. I had my political views during these years,” Mikaelian stressed. “Regardless of everything, I could not leave the people and be indifferent.”
Mikaelian also challenged the investigation that is being conducted in relation to his case.
“What they have written up against me is false, they give false testimony,” he claimed. “I can be tried for what I did, but I won’t be tried for I didn’t. I won’t be tried for treachery. I was ready to sacrifice my life, I fought in war, was a commander, how could I do such a thing? On March 1, I was there already as a parliament member and I tried to prevent everything. Everything is clear for me as to what they want.”
Mikaelian, however, does not exclude the possibility of a dialogue between President Serzh Sarkisian and the opposition led by Levon Ter-Petrosian. “All guys who are here today were once close both with Levon Ter-Petrosian and Serzh Sarkisian. I think that these guys should be released and negotiations should be started,” he said. “The parliament must be dissolved, because it is a step and some step must be taken in this country. The first step is the formation of a normal opposition in the National Assembly, which will in some sense create an atmosphere of hope.”