By Emil DanielyanSix more senior Armenian diplomats on Sunday publicly condemned their government’s handling of the presidential election in what amounted to a show of support for opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian.
In a joint statement read out at a Ter-Petrosian rally, the Foreign Ministry officials expressed their “outrage” at serious fraud which they said prevented the vote from being “civilized, free and fair.” “Only by acting in conformity with the letter and spirit of the law can we create democracy and tolerance in Armenia and earn the country a good reputation abroad,” they said.
The statement’s signatories included the chief Foreign Ministry spokesman, Vladimir Karapetian, and the heads of the ministry’s NATO, North America and United Nations desks.
A similar statement was issued on Saturday by Deputy Foreign Minister Armen Bayburtian, Armenia’s ambassadors to Italy and Kazakhstan as well as an envoy at the Armenian embassy in Ukraine. They stressed the need for Armenia to have a democratically elected president and expressed their solidarity with Armenians fighting for “freedom” and the establishment of a “genuine democracy” in their country.
All four diplomats were immediately relieved of their duties. Three of them were also stripped of their ranks of ambassador. Similar measures will almost certainly be taken against the six other Foreign Ministry officials.
Ter-Petrosian described the diplomats as “heroes” and urged Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian to follow suit.