Armed Forces Commander Urges Quick Resolution to Murders

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–RFE/RL)–An announcement Thursday issued by the press office of the Armenian Defense Ministry and signed by the commander of the Armenian forces–urged Prosecutor General Aghvan Hovsepian and minister of interior and nationals security Serge Sarkissian to quickly resolve the murders of deputy interior minister Artsrun Markarian and deputy defense minister Vahram Khorkhoruni.

"The commanding body of the Armenian Armed Forces is extremely alarmed by the killings of deputy defense minister Gen. Vahram Khorkhoruni and the commander of interior ministry forces Maj. Gen. Artsrun Markarian," the announcement stated.

"Not resolving the murder of Vahram Khorkhoruni resulted in the loss of yet another comrade in arms and commander. A day after the killing–officials at the Armenia’s prosecutor general’s office–through announcemen’s did not rule out calling the act a suicide. Furthermore–they publicly discredited a commanding officer’s name and reputation," continued the announcement.

"We demand that in a short time–the murder cases of gen. Khorkhoruni and Maj. gen. Markarian are solved and offer our help in that matter," concluded the announcement.

The mysterious murder of made the main headlines in Wednesday’s Armenian press.

"The most awful thing about these endless murders is that the society is increasingly indifferent when receiving reports of yet another assassination," wrote Aravot–which also asserted that the killing was somehow related to the 1998 abortive attempt on Markarian’s life.

Whether the crime was committed for political–economic or "criminal" reasons is difficult to say as the three phenomena are intermingled in Armenia–the paper concluded.

Azg reported that Markarian used to be a subordinate of the former interior troops commander–Vahan Harutiunian–who is the key witness in the murder case implicating the former interior minister Vano Siradeghian.

"What’s going on in this country?" exclaimed Hayots Ashkhar. "Is it a madhouse or a test ground for contract killers?" The continuing killings of top officials have got to a point where they "jeopardize national security and disgrace the nation." And they will not cease unless the authorities take "radical measures."

"Yerkir" said that "Artsrun Markarian and [the murdered former deputy defense minister] Vahram Khorkhoruni have been made scapegoats." It is possible that Markarian "knew a lot about Vano Siradeghian" and was "well informed about wider inner-government developmen’s." That is why he was a target of an armed assault in January 1998.

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