Ghoukassian Stabilized Investigation Continues into Assassination Attempt

STEPANAKERT (Noyan Tapan)–"No charges have yet been brought against any of the 28 persons detained in connection with the attempted murder of Nagorno Karabakh Republic President Arkady Ghoukassian," Karabakh First Deputy Prosecutor General–member of the operational investigative group–Aramais Avagian told Noyan Tapan. He refrained from commenting on official information regarding the incident. Referring to the information of the detention of ex-Minister of Defense Samvel Babayan–and his brother–Mayor of Stepanakert Karen Babayan–Avagian neither confirmed nor denied.

On Tuesday evening–Ghoukassian and one of his bodyguards were brought to Yerevan. The Karabakh President’s operation was successful. Ghoukassian’s driver–Sergey Sargssian–who was wounded in the neck and the left lung–was also successfully operated on by neurosurgeons who arrived in Stepanakert from Yerevan. Doctors said that the bullet affected the cervical vertebra–but fortunately–the marrow was not affected. Final conclusions concerning Sergey Sargssian’s state of health can be made only after he regains consciousness. He is currently under anesthetic–and his lungs’ functions are maintained by "the artificial lung" device.

Ghoukassian’s state is now satisfactory–Director of the Mikaelian Institute of Surgery Hamlet Tamazian told reporters. He said that Ghoukassian and Gabrielian were operated on by means of the most cutting-edge techniques and special equipment.

Head of the Department of Intensive Therapy and Reanimation Rafael Grigorian said that Ghoukassian was brought to Yerevan at about 11:00 p.m. on March 22 in a state of traumatic shock–with a bullet wound. The president’s state was so alarming that at first he was taken to the Department of Intensive Therapy. After the president’s state stabilized–he was taken to the operating-room. The 5-hour-long operation was successfully performed by the Head Orthopaedist-Traumatologist of Armenia–Vachagan Aivazian. On March 24–the Karabakh President is most likely to be transported to the Department of Surgery.

Grigorian said that the deficit of the legs’ functions will be minimal. The recovery period will last 2-3 months. He added that Ghoukassian seems to be physically strong–possibly making the recovery period much shorter.

The Nagorno Karabakh Republic President’s satisfactory state was confirmed by his brother–Areg Ghoukassian–who said that Arkady Ghoukassian feels well. As to possible reasons for the crime–Areg Ghoukassian said that he had discussed only personal matters with his brother.

Gabrielian is in a more critical state. Head of the Neurosurgery Department Andranik Kalaijan said that although Gabrielian’s state is described as stable but heavy–his life is out of danger. Gabrielian was brought to the Institute of Surgery at 11:00 p.m. on March 22 to the Department of Reanimation–in an extremely serious state with wounds on the right arm–left leg and the pelvic region. Gabrielian was operated on by three teams of physicians: a team of neurosurgeons headed by Andranik Kalaijan; a team of vascular surgeons headed by Head of the Department of Cardio-Vascular Surgery Tigran Sultanian; a team of orthopedists headed by Head of the Orthopedic Department Seyran Saroyan. During the four-and-a-half-hour-long operation–the plastics of the main artery and one of the affected nerves–as well as surgical dressing of other wounds–were performed.

Kailajian and other doctors hope that Gabrielian will not become an invalid. He needs several months of rehabilitation and another operation on the other affected nerve. On March 24–he will also be transported to the Department of Surgery where high security measures have now been taken.

The parliamentary factions and the "Kayunutiun" deputy group condemned the attempt on President Arkady Ghoukassian’s life. They stressed the importance of prompt disclosure of this crime.

Commenting on the reports alleging the arrest of Samvel Babayan–member of the "Right & Unity" faction Hamlet Haroutiunian said–"I don’t believe that the national hero of Artsakh–the man who commanded the victorious army could have taken that step." Hrant Khachatrian–representing the same faction–expressed the opinion that the strained political atmosphere in Karabakh had been generated by the intrigues of the Armenian authorities. He described Babayan as a person loyal to Karabakh and Armenia who has nothing to do with the terrorist act."

ARF faction leader David Lokian personally believes that Babayan has no relation to the crime. He is inclined to think that "it was the result of the interference of external forces." Lokian observed that all neighbors of Armenia have good relations with the country–and they may attempt to force Armenia and Karabakh to agree to an undesirable Karabakh settlement.

Karen Karapetian of "Kayunutiun" did not rule out that all that happened might have been the provocation set against Babayan.

According to the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Prosecutor General’s Office–investigative measures in connection with the attack on Ghoukassian are continuing. New people are being arrested on suspicion of being involved in the attempted murder.

Preliminary results of the work of the operational and investigative group are expected to be announced soon.

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