By Emil DanielyanTwo supporters of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian were sentenced to two years in prison on Monday for exposing undercover agents of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) present at a post-election opposition rally in Yerevan.
The two NSS officers were exposed in the city’s Liberty Square late on February 27 during the non-stop protests staged there by the opposition leader. Ter-Petrosian aides said that they were apprehended by opposition activists 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. The law-enforcement body says they thereby broke a written pledge not to reveal the identity of undercover NSS operatives which they had signed while quitting the security agency.
Melkonian and Khachatrian pleaded not guilty to the accusation during the trial held in closed sessions. However, a district court in Yerevan backed the charge, sentencing them under an article of Armenia’s Criminal Code that deals with disclosure of state secrets.
The sentenced men worked for a major Armenian bank owned by Khachatur Sukiasian, a fugitive parliament deputy and businessman close to Ter-Petrosian.