Gunmen Charged With Terrorism; Interior Minister Submits Resignation

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Charges of terrorism have been brought against the gunmen who attacked the parliament building on October 27. The Prosecutor General’s Office is running an investigation into the case.

Interior Minister Suren Abrahamian submitted his resignation to President Robert Kocharian–Interior Ministry spokesman Artak Vardazarian reported. The decision is not conditioned by any pressure on the minister nor is it the result of the statement by the Ministry of Defense to dismiss the power ministers. Admitting his share of responsibility for the incident–the minister did what he ought to.

Meanwhile–all members of the terrorist group which murdered Armenia’s prime minister Vazgen Sarsgsyan and Karen Demirchian have been identified.

Acting spokesperson for the Interior Ministry of Armenia Artak Vardazarian said that members of the group are Nairi Hounanian–his younger brother Karen–their uncle Vram Galstian–Derenik Bejanian and Edward Grigorian. He did not provide other information.

According to some sources–Edward Grigorian is a surgeon and has two children.

The National Security Ministry reported that the terrorists are being kept at the pre-trial detention prison of the ministry. The ministry’s public information section–however–denied the information that the detainees are guarded by the military police. The ministry also denied rumors that National Security Minister Serge Sargssian has submitted resignation.

President Robert Kocharian meanwhile signed a decree October 28 assigning a state commission to organize the funerals of the prominent state and political figures who died at the hands of the assailants during the tragic evening. The president himself will lead the commission.

The president also issued a decree announcing a three day mourning beginning on October 29 for the innocent victims.

The national flag of the Republic of Armenia is lowered to half-mast at the diplomatic missions in Armenia and abroad.

The State commission for organizing the funeral of the slain victims of Wednesday’s attack on parliament announced that funeral services are scheduld for Saturday and Sunday at Opera House. The burial cermony will be held Sunday afternoon.

Nagorno Karabakh Republic President Arkady Ghoukassian issued a decree announcing a three-day mourning in Nagorno Karabakh starting on October 29 for the victims of the terrorist act in the parliament of Armenia.

An official Karabakh delegation led by the president left for Yerevan today to participate in the funeral of the slain government and parliament members to take place on October 31.

"There are no problems between the army and the president and they should not be created artificially," Unity faction leader–Chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia Andranik Margarian said commenting on a statement issued by the Ministry of Defense. According to Margarian–the statement does not demand but rather asks the president to reconsider the power ministers.

A meeting of the government chaired by President Robert Kocharian took place on October 29. The participants in the meeting paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the October 27 tragic events with a minute of silence.

Then–the president announced that he assumed the leadership of the government until a new prime minister is appointed.

According to the president’s press service–in connection with the tragic events in the parliament–the president said that what happened at the National Assembly on October 27 brought about quite a new situation in the country.

Regarding the formation of a new government as a high-priority task–he stressed that the government must continue its normal functioning. "The country is strong by its structures of governance and each at his place must show that all mechanisms of government function uninterruptedly," Kocharian said. According to him–the election of the new leadership of the National Assembly will take place after the funeral of the victims. Then–after consultations with political forces–a new prime minister will be appointed to propose a new composition of the government. According to the president–the government needs serious support in the National Assembly for effective and calm work.

In Kocharian’s opinion–the new government has difficult work ahead and it is only through combined efforts that the problems the government is now faced with will be possible to solve.

The government meeting approved a draft state budget for 2000 to be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration.

Meanwhile–representatives of all National Assembly factions and deputy groups expressed their strong determination to ensure normal activities of parliament during a meeting on October 28. The meeting was chaired by Unity faction member Tigran Torosian.

Those present were unanimous in their belief that only combined efforts will lead the country out of the crisis. They expressed their firm intention to ensure the normal work of the National Assembly with the aid of the coordinating council of faction leaders–which is to prepare a special session of parliament. The special session of parliament will be held under the Constitution and National Assembly Regulations following the funerals of the prime minister–the speaker of parliament and others deceased.

The meeting found it necessary that representatives of factions and groups as well as independent deputies should meet with the president.

In his speech addressed to the deputies–the president presented his assessmen’s of the current situation in the republic. He said that a situation has unfolded in the republic that must be dealt with through coordinated steps and combined efforts of the president–the society and political forces.

"A very stable internal political situation formed as a result of the parliamentary elections in Armenia–normal relationships were established between all branches of power and we were sure that at least for four years we would be able to work in a calm and constructive atmosphere. But in just a few seconds that reality changed–and today the country is facing new challenges that can only be overcome through combined efforts and steps. We must prove the world and ourselves that we can overcome the current crisis," the president emphasized.

He said the task of forming a new government and leadership of the National Assembly will be immediately addressed after the funerals. According to Kocharian–after the election of the new leadership of the National Assembly and consultations with political forces–a new prime minister will be appointed and a new government will be formed.

"Through combined efforts we must try to find such ways to overcome the current situation that would make it possible to restore stability in the state as soon as possible. It was a hard blow against all of us and the prestige of the country and we will feel the consequences for a long time. It will be very difficult for the new government to work. It will require huge efforts of the National Assembly and the new government to repair the country’s prestige," Kocharian underlined.

The deputies believe that an encroachment on state and national security was committed. Considering issues of national security to be the priority task–they said that people must feel secure in their own country.

According to the parliamentarians–Kocharian assumed personal responsibility and calmly navigated the measures to arrest the attackers of the National Assembly and free the hostages. They were unanimous in their belief that additional killings were avoided due to the president’s efforts.

Stressing that what happened will entail serious consequences–the deputies expressed readiness to support and cooperate with Robert Kocharian. According to them–the situation makes it imperative that all should rally around the president of the republic and overcome the current crisis through combined efforts.


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