Two former members of a disbanded group of experts assisting Armenia’s main parliamentary probe into last year’s post-election unrest have urged the National Assembly’s ad hoc commission to make an additional inquiry into alleged involvement of bodyguards of a number of government-connected businessmen and officials in the deadly violence.
Andranik Kocharian and Seda Safarian, who served as members of the Fact-Finding Group of Experts from the opposition until the mission was disbanded in June, unveiled to the media on Thursday a “list of sets of uniforms” ostensibly issued to a number of wealthy businessmen and senior government officials in the period of Armenia’s worst street violence on March 1-2, 2008. Street battles between security forces and supporters of ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian, an officially defeated candidate in Armenia’s 2008 presidential election, left 10 people dead and hundreds injured.
Among the nine businessmen and officials, the list that the former Fact-Finding Group members said was obtained from the Ter-Petrosian-led Armenian National Congress (HAK) names Gagik Tsarukian, a millionaire businessman and leader of a large pro-government party (issued 300 suits and 49 winter caps), current Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian (115 suits) and incumbent Yerevan mayor Gagik Beglarian (83 suits and 10 winter caps).
Kocharian and Safarian also said they had submitted a report to the parliamentary commission describing the group’s unannounced visit to Defense Ministry stockrooms that they said was obstructed in an ‘organized’ manner.
The opposition members of the disbanded group explained that the goal of the visit was to look into the veracity of the claims repeatedly made at opposition rallies that military uniforms had been issued to “notorious people, oligarchs and officials” from the storehouses of the Ministry of Defense. But Kocharian said the members of the group had been prevented from seeing corresponding registers of the facilities.
“We suggest that the National Assembly’s Ad Hoc Commission make an additional inquiry into the accusations made by the HAK against the authorities,” Kocharian concluded.