Kocharian Says Killings Weakened Parliament

MOSCOW (Reuters–Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said on Saturday his country’s parliament had been weakened by last month’s killings of Prime Minister Vazgen Sarksyan and the chamber speaker–Karen Demirchyan.

But Kocharyan–who met President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow on Friday–told Russia’s ORT television before returning to Armenia that his country had not been destabilised by the shootings.

"Two very serious people have left politics. On Armenia’s political playing field they played key roles and it goes without saying that political power has been weakened to some extent," Kocharyan told Russia’s ORT television.

"(But) there has been no kind of destabilisation."

Sarksyan and Demirchyan were gunned down with six other officials late last month–when gunmen unleashed a hail of bullets around the parliament chamber. The shooting was subsequently seen as a grudge attack rather than coup attempt.

Kocharian–accompanied by Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian and Minister of Defense Vagharshak Haroutiunian–was in Moscow on a one-day visit November 5.

The Armenian president held meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin–Prime Minister Vladimir Putin–and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. The discussions focused on the development of Armenian-Russian relations–the Karabakh settlement–and the situation in Armenia.

During the meeting with his Russian counterpart–the Armenian president outlined the situation in Armenia after the October 27 shootings and thanked the Russian president for his country’s support in this difficult period.

"On behalf of the Russian people–this is our tragedy too," the Russian president said.

The two countries’ presidents discussed Armenian-Russian relations and addressed the Karabakh settlement. The sides assessed the current level of the bilateral relations as hope-inspiring and their development as dynamic. They laid emphasis on joint struggle against terrorism.

During the meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the Armenian president addressed the current level of bilateral relations and prospects for their development. The sides discussed the issues of expanding economic cooperation as well as problems of military cooperation. The meeting participants stressed the importance of struggle against terrorism.

During his one-and-a-half-hour long meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov the Armenian president addressed the Karabakh settlement. The sides also addressed the OSCE Istanbul Summit. Ivanov hailed Armenia’s approaches to the conflict settlement and the steps towards the resumption of the negotiating process.

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