Siradeghian Fingered in Four Murders Ter Petrosyan Link Alleged

YEREVAN (Ayzhm-RFE/RL)–The Yerevan-based Ayzhm newspaper reported Wednesday–that during last week’s police interrogation of former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian–the commander of the interior troops commander Vahan Harutunian implicated Siradeghian in four murders.

In a face-to-face confrontation–Harutunian said Siradeghian ordered four political murders. Siradeghian did not respond to the charges and suddenly "felt ill," after which the confrontation was interrupted for five hours.

Siradeghian was summoned to police and–earlier this week–to the prosecutor’s office in connection with testimony given by the former interior troops commander arrested last month apparently on charges of murder and corruption. Harutunian–headed the Armenian interior troops at a time when Siradeghian was interior minister.

The Ayzhm weekly also quoted the ex-commander as telling the prosecutors that former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan was aware of who ordered the murders.

"It was a very interesting confrontation," Prosecutor General Henrik Khachatrian told Azg about Siradeghian’s face to face confrontation with the arrested Harutunian.

Khachatrian confirmed that more interrogations were expected of witnesses and suspects–including senior officials from the ANM and the former regime.

He denied–however–that Ter-Petrosyan’s name figured during the interrogation.

Ter-Petrosyan paid an unexpected visit to the headquarters of the Armenian National Movement to meet his long-time associate Siradeghian one day after the latter’s interrogation by police.

Meanwhile–both Ter-Petrosyan and Siradeghian refused to answer any questions from RFE/RL. The RFE/RL correspondent reported that the flamboyant Siradeghian was in his usual mood–showing no signs of anxiety. He was greeted at the ANM building by the former ruling party’s top brass–including its vice-chairmen and former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian. They were later joined by Ter-Petrosyan and after a 30-minute confidential meeting left the building.

Sources in the ANM told RFE/RL that the men’set out for the countryside.

A senior official in the ANM–however–told RFE/RL Tuesday that Ter-Petrosyan’s week-end visit to the former ruling party’s headquarters had nothing to do with the interrogation.

ANM deputy chairman Andranik Hovakimian said–"I don’t think [Siradeghian’s] interrogation was a sufficiently extraordinary event to require any signs of solidarity."

Downplaying Ter-Petrosyan’s rare visit–Hovakimian refused to elaborate on the ex-president’s meeting with party officials–arguing that "there was nothing interesting in it."

Ter-Petrosyan–seen by an RFE/RL correspondent Saturday–was dressed in uncharacteristically casual fashion in blue jeans–and had a new hair style.

The deputy chairman also confirmed that Ter-Petrosyan was accompanied by Babken Ararktsian–former parliament speaker and a leading figure in the ANM–who visited the party premises for the first time in many weeks.

Ararktsian has been refusing to attend meetings of the party’s governing body and is reportedly at odds with Siradeghian. But Hovakimian denied that there is a personal feud between the two men–admitting "only tactical differences."

Siradeghian brought further uncertainty into the circumstances surrounding his interrogation by police–announcing Monday a temporary suspension of contacts with the press.

The high-profile Siradeghian–who has been unusually open to the media lately–said he will avoid giving interviews for a "certain period of time."

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