Former Aviation Chief Dismisses Harutiunian Claims

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"If acquitted of the preliminary charges–I am ready to serve Armenia and its people," the former head of the Chief Civil Aviation Department–Dmitry Atbashian–said at a news conference Monday.

According to him–the criminal proceedings that were instituted against him have not been dismissed yet. Furthermore–"the dissolved Supreme Court passed the power to acquit me onto the Prosecutor’s Office."

The news conference focused on "Atbashian + 4"–an article published in the December 31–1997 issue of the Aravot Daily. In the article–Speaker of the National Assembly Khosrov Harutiunian–who was the prime minister in 1992–explained why Atbashian was arrested.

Accusing Harutiunian of distorting the facts–Atbashian said that his personal goal is to regain his dignity by truthful means; he added that Harutiunian is also trying to regain his dignity using lies.

Without denying all of the facts in the article–Atbashian did point out that most of what was discussed in the article took place before he was appointed head of the Civil Aviation Department.

Atbashian said he resented Harutiunian’s statement that before being arrested–Atbashian and another two of his co-workers arrived in Dubai by an "IL-76" plane. Harutiunian was quoted as saying–"Ask Atbashian where he was a day before his arrest–and he will tell you."

To this Atbashian answered that on September 8–1992 he really went to Dubai–accompanying cargo–but his trip was not aimed at entertaining–rather at signing an agreement with the management of the Civil Aviation of the United Arab Emirates on operation of the Armenian Aircompany’s planes on UAE flights.

The chief purpose of this agreement–according to Atbashian–was the decentralization of Armenian planes–under the conditions of the ongoing fuel crisis. As for this all-important issue–it was during Atbashian’s presence in office that an agreement was reached with Russia on delivery of about 200,000 tons of kerosene–which was brought to Yerevan by strategic aircrafts.

Atbashian accused Harutiunian of pursuing the wrong policy regarding aviation and inflicting great damage on the sphere.

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