By Nane Atshemian
A close associate of opposition leader Aram Sarkisian issued on Friday a stern rebuke to the latter’s jailed brother for praising President Robert Kocharian in a newspaper interview published last week.
Albert Bazeyan suggested that Armen Sarkisian, who is serving 15-year prison sentence for his alleged role in a politically sensitive murder, hoped for his amnesty by describing Kocharian as the best friend of Vazgen Sarkisian, his second brother and a former prime minister assassinated in the October 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament.
Armen Sarkisian was convicted in November 2003 of commissioning the murder of Tigran Naghdalian, the head of Armenia state television and a strong Kocharian supporter. Prosecutors say he believed that Naghdalian was involved in the parliament killings.
Sarkisian has strongly denied the charges. His relatives denounced the case as politically motivated, saying Kocharian sought to punish them for their continuing questions about his possible involvement in the 1999 shootings.
But in the interview with the “168 Zham” weekly given at the Kosh prison west of Yerevan, Armen Sarkisian stressed that he has never stated publicly that he too suspects Kocharian. He also said he ended up in jail because the president “wasn’t given correct information” about Naghdalian’s murder. “I am convinced that that Robert Kocharian has nothing against me,” he said.
The remarks sharply contrasted with Aram Sarkisian’s repeated statements that his brother is held by the authorities as a “hostage.” Bazeyan, who is a senior member of Aram’s Hanrapetutyun party and was close to Vazgen, denied that the late prime minister had a very warm rapport with Kocharian.
“There exist objective realities and subjective perceptions of those realities,” Bazeyan told journalists. “I think that Armen Sarkisian’s perceptions of those relations are unfortunately a bit subjective. It is Armen Sarkisian’s right to try to win an early liberation with such evaluations.”
(RFE/RL archive: Armen Sarkisian.)