Armenian parliament shooting

The Armenian parliament shooting, commonly known in Armenia as October 27 (Հոկտեմբերի 27, Hoktemberi k’sanyot’), was a terrorist[6][7] attack on the Armenian National Assembly in the capital Yerevan on October 27, 1999, by a group of five armed men led by Nairi Hunanyan that, among others, killed the two de facto decision-makers in the country's political leadership—Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchyan. Their reform-minded coalition had won a majority in the parliamentary election held in May of that year and had practically sidelined President Robert Kocharyan from the political scene.

The shooting led to significant changes in the country's political landscape. It remains a subject of numerous conspiracy theories, mostly involving President Kocharyan, whose tenure thereafter was frequently criticized as authoritarian. Sargsyan and Demirchyan were posthumously honored with National Hero of Armenia titles.[8]

Armenian parliament shooting
ArmenianStamps-175a
A 2000 postal card depicting the eight victims of the shooting
LocationNational Assembly Building,
Yerevan, Armenia
DateOctober 27, 1999
5:15 pm (UTC+4)
TargetVazgen Sargsyan[1]
WeaponsAK-47
Deaths8
Non-fatal injuries
30+[2][3]
PerpetratorsNairi Hunanyan, Karen Hunanyan, Vram Galstyan, Derenik Ejanyan, Eduard Grigoryan[4]
DefendersAfter the occupation of the building:
Minister of Interior (Police)
Defense Ministry (Armed Forces)
Russian anti-terrorist squad[5]
MotiveCoup d'état (according to perpetrators)

Shooting

Վազգեն Սարգսյան
Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, formerly an influential Minister of Defense, was the main target of the shooting.

On 27 October 1999, at around 5:15 p.m.,[9][10] five men led by journalist and former ARF member Nairi Hunanyan,[11] armed with Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles hidden under long coats,[5][9] broke into the National Assembly building on Baghramyan Avenue in Yerevan, while the government was holding a question-and-answer session. They shot dead eight people:[12]

  • Vazgen Sargsyan, Prime Minister
  • Karen Demirchyan, National Assembly Speaker
  • Yuri Bakhshyan, Deputy National Assembly Speaker
  • Ruben Miroyan, Deputy National Assembly Speaker
  • Leonard Petrosyan, Minister of Urgent Affairs
  • Henrik Abrahamyan, Member of Parliament
  • Armenak Armenakyan, Member of Parliament
  • Mikayel Kotanyan, Member of Parliament

The gunmen injured at least 30 people in the parliament.[2][3]

Hunanyan was accompanied by his brother Karen, uncle Vram, and two others.[13] The group claimed they were carrying out a coup d'état.[14][15] They described their act as "patriotic" and "needed for the nation to regain its senses."[9] They said they wanted to "punish the authorities for what they do to the nation" and described the government as profiteers "drinking the blood of the people."[16] They claimed Armenia was in a "catastrophic situation" and that "corrupt officials" were not doing anything to provide the way out.[3][16] Vazgen Sargsyan was the main target of the group[11] and the other deaths were said to be unintended.[16] According to reporters who witnessed the shooting, the men went up to Sargsyan and said, "Enough of drinking our blood," to which Sargsyan calmly responded, "Everything is being done for you and the future of your children."[16] Vazgen Sargsyan was hit several times.[17] Hunanyan claimed that the eight deaths and dozens of injuries in the attack were all "innocent victims" except for the case of Sargsyan, who he said had "failed the nation".[18] Anna Israelyan, an eyewitness journalist, stated that "the first shots were fired directly at Vazgen Sargsyan at a distance of one to two meters" and, in her words, "it was impossible that he would have survived."[10] Gagik Saratikyan, a cameraman, was the first person from outside to be allowed to go into the building while the men were in control of it. Saratikyan recorded the dead bodies of Vazgen Sargsyan and Karen Demirchyan.[16] Sargsyan's body was taken out of the parliament building on the evening of October 27.[2]

Government response

Soon after the attack, hundreds of policemen and army forces personnel and two armored personnel carriers[9] were brought into Yerevan, positioned on Baghramyan Avenue surrounding the National Assembly building.[16] An anti-terrorist squad from Russia also participated in the operation.[5] Meanwhile, ambulance vehicles rushed to the site of the shooting.[10] President Robert Kocharyan was directing the operation of the security forces around the parliament building.[19] While holding around 50 hostages inside the building,[9] the men demanded a helicopter and airtime on national television for a political statement.[2][10][15]

President Robert Kocharyan gave a speech on TV, announcing that the situation was under control. His spokesman Vahe Gabrielyan was quick to characterize the men as "individual terrorists" and assured that "it's only the parliament building and a very small group."[17] After overnight negotiations with President Kocharyan, the gunmen released the hostages and gave themselves up on the morning of October 28, after a standoff[15] that lasted 17–18 hours.[20][21] Kocharyan had guaranteed the personal security of the gunmen and the right to a free trial.[9][22] In the meantime, the Armenian armed forces blocked the roads leading to Yerevan for security reasons.[23]

On 28 October 1999, President Kocharyan declared a three-day mourning period.[24] The state funeral ceremony for the victims of the parliament shooting took place from 30 October to 31 October 1999. The bodies of the victims, including Vazgen Sargsyan, were placed inside the Yerevan Opera Theater.[25][26] A number of high-ranking officials from some 30 countries, including Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, attended the funeral. Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians and Aram I, the Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia, gave prayers.[27]

Reaction

Public

A poll carried out immediately after the shooting (in October 30–31) by the Center for Sociological Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia found that 56.9% of respondents said that the October 27 events were a crime against statehood and the country's authorities. 63.4% of those questioned believed that the terrorist group consisted of assassins–traitors and enemies.[28]

International

  •  Australia — Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer condemned the assassination of the high officials.[29]
  •  France — The Armenian embassy in Paris received telegrams from President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and many others.[30]
  •  Iran — Vice President Hassan Habibi visited the Armenian embassy in Tehran, where he left a condolence note in the book on the sad occasion.[30]
  •  KazakhstanPresident Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan sent a telegram of condolences to President Kocharyan, saying it was a "barbaric" incident that had been received "with shock and indignation". Nazarbayev emphasized that this "monstrous crime once again demands that we join efforts to step up the uncompromising fight against terrorism which threatens people's stability, creative work and peaceful life."[31]
  •  RussiaPresident Boris Yeltsin expressed his "deep anger" and "sharp condemnation of the actions of the terrorists". He instructed the Russian ambassador in Yerevan to convey his "deepest sympathies" and condolences to all those who had suffered "as a result of this barbarous act". President Yeltsin was also quoted as saying there was a need "to curb decisively all manifestations of terrorism, wherever they happened," stressing Russia's readiness for "close co-operation on this issue with all concerned parties."[31]
  •  SyriaParliament Speaker Abd al-Qadir Qaddura offered condolences.[30]
  •  TurkeyPrime Minister Bulent Ecevit expressed his concern and stated that "This is an extremely sad and worrying event." He added that "Many possibilities come to mind. A process of dialogue has started that gives signs of hope between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Is it a reaction to that or not? I don't know."[31]
  •  United Kingdom — The Foreign Office spokesman said: "This is clearly a terrible blow for Armenia after gaining independence in 1991 and after efforts to build up a democracy. We do not condone terrorism."[31]
  •  United States — President Bill Clinton condemned the shootings, calling it a "senseless act", and stated renewed US support for Armenia. He added, "At this time of tragedy we renew our support for the people of Armenia and their leaders as they continue to build on the principles today's victims have so courageously embodied."[13][32] On November 17, 1999 the House of Representatives passed a resolution deploring the assassinations.[33]

Investigation and trial

The five men were charged with terrorism aimed at undermining authority on 29 October.[5] The investigation was led by Gagik Jhangiryan, the Chief Military Prosecutor of Armenia, who claimed his team was looking for the masterminds of the shooting even after the trial had begun.[34] According to Jhangiryan, the investigating team considered more than a dozen theories.[35] By January 2000, Jhangiryan's investigators considered the connection of Kocharyan and his circle to the parliament shooting.[36] Several figures close to Kocharyan were arrested, including Aleksan Harutiunyan, the Deputy Presidential Adviser, and Harutiun Harutiunyan, the Deputy Director of the Public Television of Armenia but, by the summer of that year, they were released.[21] Eventually, Jhangiryan failed to find evidence linking Kocharyan to the shooting.[21]

The investigation ended and the case was sent to court on 12 July 2000.[37] The trial began on February 15, 2001, in Yerevan's Kentron and Nork-Marash District Court.[38] The judicial case was transferred to the jurisdiction of Aghvan Hovsepyan, the Prosecutor General, and his office, which finally closed the case for lack of evidence.[39] The five main perpetrators of the shooting (Nairi Hunanyan, his younger brother Karen Hunanyan, their uncle Vram Galstyan, Derenik Ejanyan and Eduard Grigoryan) were sentenced to life in prison on December 2, 2003.[4]

Conspiracy theories

It has never been fully explained what motivated the attack: the gunmen claimed to have been acting on their own initiative, and despite abundant conspiracy theories, no convincing evidence surfaced to suggest that any political leader or party was behind the attack. Nevertheless, the killings left a leadership void in the political establishment.[40] Conspiracy theories immediately flourished that the gunmen had been acting on orders to sabotage a Karabakh peace deal, but a decade on, the available evidence still pointed to the leading gunman being a loner with a grudge against the Armenian political elite.[41]

In an interview in April 2013, Rita Demirchyan, the widow of Karen Demirchyan, suggested that the shooting was commanded from outside of Armenia and that it was not an attempt of a coup, but rather an assassination.[42]

Alleged involvement of Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan

Robert Kocharyan's Interveiw, 2003
Robert Kocharyan, President at the time of the shooting
S Sarkisyan
Serzh Sargsyan, National Security Minister at the time of the shooting

Although the investigation did not find any considerable evidence linking Kocharyan to the Hunanyan group, many Armenian politicians and analysts believe that President Robert Kocharyan and National Security Minister Serzh Sargsyan were behind the assassination of Vazgen Sargsyan and other leading politicians.[43][44][45][A] In January 2000, investigators alleged that several members of the President Robert Kocharian's inner circle may have been behind the October 27 shooting, promoting some opposition figures to call for Kocharian's resignation. However, Kocharyan gradually consolidated his power throughout the year to emerge as the most powerful figure in the country's leadership.[36]

Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan has repeatedly "accused Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan and their 'criminal-oligarchic' system of being the real perpetrators of the parliament shooting." In the run up to the 2008 presidential election he explicitly stated that "If you vote for Serzh Sargsyan on February 19, you will vote for Nairi Hunanyan. He who elects Serzh Sarkisian would desecrate the holy graves of Karen Demirchian and Vazgen Sarkisian."[46] In 2009 the Armenian National Congress, an opposition alliance led by Ter-Petrosyan, released a statement on the 10th anniversary of the shooting blaming "Kocharyan and Serzh Sarkisyan for the killings, claiming that most Armenians consider them the masterminds of the crime." The statement continued, "October 27 was a violent seizure of power perpetrated by means of terrorism. Terrorism thus became the regime's main tool for clinging to power and reproducing itself."[46]

In March 2013, Vazgen Sargsyan's younger brother Aram Sargsyan stated that he has many questions to both governments of Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan. He claimed the judicial process of October 27 "deepened the public distrust in the authorities" as "many questions remain unanswered today" According to Aram Sargsyan, the disclosure of the shooting is "vital" for Armenia. Sargsyan at conclusion insisted that he "have never accused this or the former authorities in being responsible for October 27. I have accused them in not fully disclosing October 27."[47]

Albert Bazeyan stated in 2002 that "We have come to the conclusion that the crime was aimed at making Robert Kocharian's power unlimited and uncontrolled. By physically eliminating Karen Demirchyan and Vazgen Sargsyan, its organizers wanted to create prerequisites for Kocharyan's victory in the future presidential elections."[48]

Alleged foreign involvement

Russia

In late April 2005, in an interview to an Azerbaijani newspaper Realniy Azerbaijan, the former Russian secret service agent Alexander Litvinenko accused the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation of having organised the Armenian parliament shooting, ostensibly to derail the peace process which would have resolved the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but he offered no evidence to support the accusation.[49][50][51] In May 2005, the Russian embassy in Armenia denied any such involvement, and described Litvinenko's accusation as an attempt to harm relations between Armenia and Russia by people against the democratic reforms in Russia.[52] The Armenian National Security Service also denied the Russian involvement in the shootings. The NSS spokesman Artsvin Baghramyan stated "not a single fact or even a hint relating to Litvinenko's theory emerged during the trial." President Robert Kocharyan's national security adviser, Garnik Isagulyan, called Litvinenko a "sick man."[39]

On October 27, 2012, the French-based Armenian "political refugee" and former Apostolic priest Artsruni Avetisysan (also known by his religious name Ter Girgor) gave an interview to A1plus, in which he claimed the Russian secret services have been behind the shooting.[53] On May 7, 2013, in an interview to the same agency, Artsruni Avetisysan claimed the shooting was perpetrated by Lieutenant General Vahan Shirkhanyan, the Deputy Minister of Defense from 1992 to 1999 and the National Security Minister Serzh Sargsyan. He insisted the shooting was assisted by the Russian secret services in order to bring the "Neo-Bolshevik criminal clan" of Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan into power.[54]

United States and France

Ashot Manucharyan, one of the leading members of the Karabakh Committee, the former Minister of Internal Affairs and Levon Ter-Petrosyan's National Security Adviser and his close ally until 1993, stated in October 2000 that Armenian officials were warned by a foreign country about the shootings. He also declared that "Western special services" were involved in the October 27 events. In Manucharyan's words, "the special services of the US and France are acting to destroy Armenia, and in this context, they are much likely to be involved in the realization of the terrorist acts in Armenia."[55]

Alleged role of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation

Nairi Hunanyan, the leader of the armed group, was an ex-member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).[56] According to the ARF representatives, Hunanyan was expelled from the party in 1992 for misconduct[13] and had not been in any association with the ARF since then.[11] Some speculations have been made about the involvement of the ARF in the shootings. Ashot Manucharyan stated in 2000 that he is much worried about the circumstance that "a number of Dashnaktsutyun party leaders are acting in the interest of the American foreign policy."[55]

Aftermath

Armenian-American journalist Garin Hovannisian described the aftermath of the attack as follows:[57]

For weeks the Armenians mourned in silence, but from their grief a startling theory began to evolve. The assassinations had been pinned on the terrorist leader, an ex-journalist named Nairi Hunanyan, but the public was not satisfied. The fact was that Prime Minister Sargsyan and Speaker Demirchyan had recently created in parliament an alliance for democratic reform, and they were only men who commanded the resources and popularity to challenge the president one day. Of course, there was no actual evidence that Robert Kocharyan was complicit in this monstrous crime against the Armenian people, but it was clear that he emerged from the bloodbath with absolute power.

From early June to late October 1999, the political system in Armenia was based on the Demirchyan-Sargsyan tandem, which controlled the military, the legislative and the executive branches. Their assassination disrupted the political balance in the country and the political arena of Armenia was left in disarray for months.[58] The assassination hit Armenia's international reputation resulting in a decline in the foreign investment.[59] The "de facto dual command" of Sargsyan and Demirchyan transferred to President Robert Kocharyan.[60]

Aram Khachatryan from the People's Party of Armenia was elected speaker of the parliament, while Vazgen Sargsyan's brother Aram Sargsyan was appointed Prime Minister.[61] However, Aram Sargsyan was dismissed by President Kocharyan in May 2000 due to "inability to work" with Sargsyan's cabinet. Republican Party leader Andranik Margaryan came to replace him as Prime Minister on May 12, 2000.[61]

Kocharyan successfully prevented the Unity bloc-controlled parliament from impeaching him,[58] and gradually consolidated the power around him.[62] Kocharyan remained highly unpopular in Armenia as a poll in August 2002 showed at least three other politicians (Stepan Demirchyan, Artashes Geghamyan, Levon Ter-Petrosyan) having more support than him.[58] In 2009, Anahit Bakhshyan, an MP from Heritage and the widow of Yuri Bakhshyan, the killed Deputy National Assembly Speaker, stated that "Robert Kocharyan turned October 27, 1999 terrorism act to good use, making a shift towards more totalitarian regime."[63] Human Development Report wrote in 2000 that the "October 27 events adversely impacted the situation in the country in all aspects and spheres and its consequences will be felt for long, in economic, political and social expressions" and predicted a further decline in human development.[64]

Later developments

On October 27, 2009, a memorial was installed in the National Assembly park. During the opening ceremony, Stepan Demirchyan, the son of one of the two main victims, Karen Demirchyan, stated that "It is impossible to get an entire revelation while the current authorities are in power. However, sooner or later the reality will be disclosed. This is a matter of our statehood's dignity. Only in case of having an entire revelation we will be able to overcome the negative consequences of the October 27 events."[65]

References

Notes
  1. ^ "Some relatives and friends of the assassinated officials, among them two of Armenia's most popular opposition leaders, suspect Kocharian of having a hand in the killings and have openly accused him of obstructing justice. Kocharian and his supporters have always dismissed the charges."[39] "It thrust the Armenian government into serious turmoil, with government factions loyal to the slain officials suspecting Kocharian and then National Security Minister Serzh Sarkisian of eliminating increasingly powerful rivals."[46]
Citations
  1. ^ Grigorian, Mark (29 October 1999). "Divining The True Motives Of The Calm Killers Of Vazgen Sarkisian". Institute for War and Peace Reporting. In fact it seemed hard to discern any clear political objective in the attack beyond the immediate wish to kill Sarkisian...
  2. ^ a b c d "Attack in Armenia". PBS. 27 October 1999.
  3. ^ a b c Mulvey, Stephen (28 October 1999). "Killers lacked coherent goals". BBC News.
  4. ^ a b "Parliament Gunmen Jailed for Life". Asbarez. 2 December 2003. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Wines, Michael (29 October 1999). "3 Charged in Armenia Parliament Seizure". New York Times. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  6. ^ Coalson, Robert; Tamrazian, Harry (27 October 2009). "Ten Years Later, Deadly Shooting In Armenian Parliament Still Echoes". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The brazen act of political terrorism ...
  7. ^ Ovanisyan, Lilit (27 October 2011). "Armenian MPs commemorate victims of 1999 terror act committed at National Assembly". Caucasian Knot.
  8. ^ "National Hero of Armenia". The Office to the President of the Republic of Armenia.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Wines, Michael (28 October 1999). "Prime Minister and Others Slain in Armenian Siege". New York Times.
  10. ^ a b c d Dixon, Robyn (28 October 1999). "Gunmen Kill Premier in Armenian Attack". Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ a b c "Key Armenian leaders assassinated". The Jamestown Foundation. 28 October 1999. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Armenian commemorating victims of act of terrorism October 27, 1999". PanARMENIAN.Net. 27 October 2003.
  13. ^ a b c "Vazgen Sargsyan Karen Demirchian Killed in Gunmen Raid on Parliament". Asbarez. 27 October 1999.
  14. ^ Jeffery, Simon (27 October 1999). "Armenian prime minister killed in 'coup bid'". The Guardian.
  15. ^ a b c "Hostage stand-off in Armenian parliament". BBC News. 27 October 1999.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Demourian, Avet (27 October 1999). "Gunmen Take Over Armenian Parliament; Premier Killed". Associated Press.
  17. ^ a b "Armenia's prime minister killed in parliament shooting". CNN. 27 October 1999.
  18. ^ Aivakian, Gagik; Tatevosian, Ara (29 October 1999). "Murder In The Parliament – The Consequences". Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
  19. ^ Magdashian, Petya (27 October 1999). "Terror in parliament". San Francisco Chronicle.
  20. ^ Wines, Michael (31 October 1999). "Assassination in Armenia". New York Times.
  21. ^ a b c Karatnycky, Adrian (2001). Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 2000–2001. Transaction Publishers. pp. 59–60. ISBN 978-1-4128-5008-7.
  22. ^ "Armenia gunmen charged". BBC News. 1 November 1999.
  23. ^ "Armenia in Crisis". The Estimate. 5 November 1999.
  24. ^ "Gunmen Free Hostages Surrender; Three Day Mourning Period Announced by President". Asbarez. 28 October 1999.
  25. ^ "In pictures: Armenia's grief". BBC News. 30 October 1999.
  26. ^ "Sargsyan Demirchian Others Laid to Rest; President Calls Emergency Parliament Session". Asbarez. 1 November 1999.
  27. ^ Manoogian Simone, Louise (1 November 1999). "Tragedy in Armenia". AGBU News Magazine.
  28. ^ "Public Says Oct. 27 Events Is A Crime Against Statehood". Asbarez. 3 November 1999. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  29. ^ Downer, Alexander (28 October 1999). "Assassination of Armenian Prime Minister". Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  30. ^ a b c "International Figures Offer Condolences". Asbarez. 2 November 1999. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  31. ^ a b c d "World leaders condemn Armenia killing". BBC News. 27 October 1999. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  32. ^ "U.S. appalled by Armenia parliament shootings". CNN. 27 October 1999. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  33. ^ "House Votes to Condemn Parliament Attack". Asbarez. 18 November 1999. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  34. ^ "Prosecutor Says Oct. 27 Terrorism Was Guided By Unknown Forces". Asbarez. 30 October 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  35. ^ "Armenia: Investigators Continue Inquiry Into Parliament Attack". RFE/RL. 9 December 1999. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  36. ^ a b Karatnycky, Adrian (2001). Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, 2000–2001. Transaction Publishers. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-4128-5008-7.
  37. ^ "October 27 Case Sent to Court". Asbarez. 12 July 2000. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  38. ^ "October 27 Trial Begins". Asbarez. 15 February 2001. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
  39. ^ a b c Stepanian, Ruzanna (4 May 2005). "Armenian Officials Deny Russian Role In 1999 Parliament Carnage". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  40. ^ Human Rights Watch (2009). Democracy on Rocky Ground: Armenia's Disputed 2008 Presidential Election, Post-election Violence, and the One-sided Pursuit of Accountability. New York. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-56432-444-3.
  41. ^ de Waal, Thomas (2010). The Caucasus: An Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-19-974620-0.
  42. ^ Harutyunyan, Tatev (16 April 2013). ""Դա եղել է սպանություն, ոչ թե հեղաշրջում". Կ. Դեմիրճյանի այրին՝ հոկտեմբերի 27-մասին [Karen Demirchyan's widow: It was an assassination, not a coup]". Aravot (in Armenian). Retrieved 14 May 2013.
  43. ^ Kaeter, Margaret (2004). The Caucasian republics. New York: Facts On File. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-0-8160-5268-4. Many Armenians believe the shootings were the result of a conspiracy, in which Kocharian was involved. They note that some of Kocharian's main political rivals at the time were among those killed.
  44. ^ Zürcher, Christoph (2007). The post-Soviet wars: rebellion, ethnic conflict, and nationhood in the Caucasus. New York: New York University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-8147-9709-9. He [Kocharian] is rumored to have been behind the gunning down of several of his opponents on the floor of the parliament in 1999.
  45. ^ "Robert Kocharian". New Internationalist (396). December 2006. Retrieved 6 July 2014. Many Armenians continue to believe that Kocharian was responsible for the assassinations.
  46. ^ a b c Martirosian, Anush; Meloyan, Ruben (28 October 2009). "Armenia Marks Parliament Attack Anniversary". RFE/RL. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  47. ^ "Բազմաթիվ հարցականները մնացին օդից կախված [Many questions remain unanswered]". A1plus (in Armenian). 5 March 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
  48. ^ "Armenia: Parliament Massacre Still A Mystery Three Years Later". RFE/RL. 28 October 2002. Retrieved 11 April 2013. The Miasnutiun victory significantly limited President Robert Kocharian's powers, with Sarkisian increasingly emerging as Armenia's most powerful man.
  49. ^ Список киллеров ФСБ [List of FSB killers]. Реальный Азербайджан (Realniy Azerbaijan) (in Russian). 29 April 2005. Archived from the original on 4 November 2005. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  50. ^ "Shooting of the Armenian Parliament was organized by Russian special services". Azg Daily. 3 May 2005. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) ( at Freezepage.com)
  51. ^ Monaghan, Andrew; Plater Zyberk, Henry (22 May 2007). "Misunderstanding Russia: Alexander Litvinenko". The UK & Russia — A Troubled Relationship Part I (PDF). Conflict Studies Research Centre of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-905962-15-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 November 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2010. ( on 11 May 2013) "Litvinenko had also blamed the Russian special services for shootings in the Armenian parliament in 1999, concluding that, as a result, "Russia's political leadership managed to prevent the signing of a peace agreement resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict". Again, he provided no evidence to back up his accusation."
  52. ^ "Russian embassy denies special services' part in Armenian parliament shooting". Information Telegraph Agency of Russia. 12 May 2005. Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  53. ^ "Ո՞վ պետք է սպանվեր Հոկտեմբերի 27-ին [Who was to be killed on October 27?]" (in Armenian). A1plus. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  54. ^ "Այդ մարդը Շիրխանյա՞նն էր [Was Vahan Shirkhanyan that person?]" (in Armenian). A1plus. 7 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  55. ^ a b "Before October 27, 1999 Armenian representatives were warned from the outside about a terrorist attack, declares the Armenian politician". PanARMENIAN.Net. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  56. ^ "Analysts baffled by shooting". BBC News. 27 October 1999. Retrieved 29 May 2013. He became the most powerful politician in the country long before he won the parliamentary elections in May
  57. ^ Hovannisian, Garin K. (2010). Family of Shadows: A Century of Murder, Memory, and the Armenian American Dream. New York: Harper. p. 203. ISBN 0-06-179208-X.
  58. ^ a b c Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia: 2003. Taylor & Francis. 2002. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-1-85743-137-7.
  59. ^ Ugurlayan, Anahid M. (5 January 2001). "Armenia: Privatization and Foreign Direct Investment in a Climate of Political and Economic Instability". Loyola Marymount University and Loyola Law School. p. 430. Retrieved 5 April 2013. The assassinations directly impacted foreign investment, which dropped 92.2% from 1998 to 1999.
  60. ^ Petrosyan, David (2010). "The Political System of Armenia: Form and Content" (PDF). Caucasus Analytical Digest. Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich; Jefferson Institute, Washington D.C.; Heinrich Böll Foundation, Tbilisi; Research Centre for East European Studies, University of Bremen (17): 8. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  61. ^ a b The Europa World yearbook 2004 (45th ed.). London: Taylor & Francis Group. 2004. p. 554. ISBN 978-1-85743-254-1.
  62. ^ "Armenia: Mystery Still Surrounds Armenian Parliament Slaughter". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 27 October 2000. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  63. ^ "October 27 terrorism act – major blow on Armenia's international prestige". PanARMENIAN.Net. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  64. ^ "Human Rights and Human Development Action for Progress Armenia 2000" (PDF). Human Development Report. p. 15. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  65. ^ "October 27: Memorial is installed, victims are remembered". ArmeniaNow. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2013.

External links

Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ва́льтерович Литвине́нко, IPA: [ɐlʲɪˈksandr ˈvaltɨrəvʲɪtɕ lʲɪtvʲɪˈnʲɛnkə]; 30 August 1962 or 4 December 1962 by father's account – 23 November 2006) was a British naturalised Russian defector and former officer of the Russian FSB secret service who specialised in tackling organised crime. According to US diplomats, Litvinenko coined the phrase Mafia state. In November 1998, Litvinenko and several other FSB officers publicly accused their superiors of ordering the assassination of the Russian tycoon and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested the following March on charges of exceeding the authority of his position. He was acquitted in November 1999 but re-arrested before the charges were again dismissed in 2000. He fled with his family to London and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom, where he worked as a journalist, writer and consultant for the British intelligence services.

During his time in London, Litvinenko wrote two books, Blowing Up Russia: Terror from Within and Lubyanka Criminal Group, wherein he accused the Russian secret services of staging the Russian apartment bombings and other terrorism acts in an effort to bring Vladimir Putin to power. He also accused Putin of ordering the murder in October 2006 of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalised in what was established as a case of poisoning by radioactive polonium-210; he died from the poisoning on 23 November. He became the first known victim of lethal polonium 210-induced acute radiation syndrome. The events leading up to this are a matter of controversy, spawning numerous conspiracy theories relating to his poisoning and death. A British murder investigation pointed to Andrey Lugovoy, a former member of Russia's Federal Protective Service, as the prime suspect. The United Kingdom demanded that Lugovoy be extradited, which is against the Constitution of Russia, which directly prohibits extradition of Russian citizens. Russia denied the extradition, leading to the cooling of relations between Russia and the United Kingdom.

After Litvinenko's death, Marina Litvinenko, aided by biologist Alexander Goldfarb, pursued a vigorous campaign through the Litvinenko Justice Foundation. In October 2011, she won the right for an inquest into her husband's death to be conducted by a coroner in London; the inquest was repeatedly set back by issues relating to examinable evidence. A public inquiry began on 27 January 2015, and concluded in January 2016 that Litvinenko's murder was an FSB operation that was probably personally approved by Vladimir Putin.

Andranik Margaryan

Andranik Nahapeti Margaryan (Armenian: Անդրանիկ Նահապետի Մարգարյան, alternative spelling: Andranik Margarian) (12 June 1949 – 25 March 2007) served as the Prime Minister of Armenia from 12 May 2000, when the President appointed him, until his death on 25 March 2007. He was a member of the Republican Party of Armenia. He succeeded the Sargsyan brothers: Vazgen Sargsyan, who was murdered during the Armenian parliament shooting on 27 October 1999 and Aram Sargsyan, whom the President appointed a week later, but fired on 2 May 2000.

History of Armenia

Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat. The original Armenian name for the country was Hayk, later Hayastan (Armenian: Հայաստան), translated as the land of Haik, and consisting of the name of the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and the Persian suffix '-stan' ("land"). The historical enemy of Hayk (the legendary ruler of Armenia), Hayastan, was Bel, or in other words Baal (Akkadian cognate Bēlu).The name Armenia was given to the country by the surrounding states, and it is traditionally derived from Armenak or Aram (the great-grandson of Haik's great-grandson, and another leader who is, according to Armenian tradition, the ancestor of all Armenians). In the Bronze Age, several states flourished in the area of Greater Armenia, including the Hittite Empire (at the height of its power), Mitanni (South-Western historical Armenia), and Hayasa-Azzi (1600–1200 BC). Soon after the Hayasa-Azzi were the Nairi (1400–1000 BC) and the Kingdom of Urartu (1000–600 BC), who successively established their sovereignty over the Armenian Highland. Each of the aforementioned nations and tribes participated in the ethnogenesis of the Armenian people. Yerevan, the modern capital of Armenia, dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by King Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni has been described as "designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital."The Iron Age kingdom of Urartu (Assyrian for Ararat) was replaced by the Orontid dynasty. Following Persian and subsequent Macedonian rule, the Artaxiad dynasty from 190 BC gave rise to the Kingdom of Armenia which rose to the peak of its influence under Tigranes II before falling under Roman rule.In 301, Arsacid Armenia was the first sovereign nation to accept Christianity as a state religion. The Armenians later fell under Byzantine, Sassanid Persian, and Islamic hegemony, but reinstated their independence with the Bagratid Dynasty kingdom of Armenia. After the fall of the kingdom in 1045, and the subsequent Seljuk conquest of Armenia in 1064, the Armenians established a kingdom in Cilicia, where they prolonged their sovereignty to 1375.Starting in the early 16th century, Greater Armenia came under Safavid Persian rule, however over the centuries Eastern Armenia remained under Persian rule while Western Armenia fell under Ottoman rule. By the 19th century, Eastern Armenia was conquered by Russia and Greater Armenia was divided between the Ottoman and Russian Empires.In the early 20th century Armenians suffered in the genocide inflicted on them by the Ottoman government of Turkey, in which 1.5 million Armenians were killed and many more dispersed throughout the world via Syria and Lebanon. Armenia, from then on corresponding to much of Eastern Armenia, regained independence in 1918, with the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia, and in 1991, the Republic of Armenia.

Karen Demirchyan

Karen Demirchyan (Armenian: Կարեն Դեմիրճյան) (April 17, 1932 – October 27, 1999) was a Soviet and Armenian politician. He served as the First Secretary of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic from 1974 to 1988. Soon after his reemergence into active politics in independent Armenia in the late 1990s, he became President of the National Assembly in 1999 until his assassination with other politicians in parliament in the Armenian parliament shooting.

Karen Demirchyan Complex

Officially Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex (Armenian: Կարեն Դեմիրճյանի անվան մարզահամերգային համալիր), also known as Demirchyan Arena, Sports & Music Complex, or simply Hamalir (for complex in Armenian), is a large sports and concert complex with 184 stairs leading up Tsitsernakaberd hill which dominates over the western parts of Yerevan, near the Hrazdan River gorge.

In August 2015 the government of Armenia decided to sell the complex to a private firm with plans to renovate the complex and turn it into a "family-oriented center".

Leonard Petrosyan

Leonard Petrosyan (Armenian: Լեոնարդ Պետրոսյան; 13 October 1952 – 27 October 1999) was the second President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic for almost 6 months (20 March 1997 to 8 September 1997). He also served as Prime Minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from December 1994 to June 1998. He was killed in the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting while serving as Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia.

List of people sentenced to more than one life imprisonment

This is a list of people sentenced to more than one life imprisonment in a single trial, worldwide. The sentence may specify that the life sentences are to be served concurrently or consecutively.

Nairi Hunanyan

Nairi Hunanyan (Armenian: Նաիրի Հունանյան) led an armed attack on the Armenian Parliament on October 27, 1999.

Hunanyan was born in 1965 in Yerevan. He graduated from the Department of Philology of Yerevan State University. In 1988 he became an active participant of the Armenian national liberation movement and was one of the founders of the Alliance of Armenian Students. He was a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Later he founded and managed the Horizon information agency. From 1994 to 1997 he lived in Crimea, Ukraine, teaching the Armenian language at a school in Yevpatoria. He returned to Armenia in 1997.

On October 27, 1999, he, along with four other gunmen, entered the Parliament, killed the prime minister Vazgen Sargsian, parliamentary speaker Karen Demirchian and six other officials.

In his statement, Nairi Hunanyan accused the government of leading Armenia into political and economic ruin.

The attackers surrendered on October 28. The five gunmen were later each sentenced to eight life sentences.

Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and KGB, who fled from court prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom.

On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later, becoming the first confirmed victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome. Litvinenko's allegations about the misdeeds of the FSB and his public deathbed accusations that Russian president Vladimir Putin was behind his unusual malady resulted in worldwide media coverage.

Subsequent investigations by British authorities into the circumstances of Litvinenko's death led to serious diplomatic difficulties between the British and Russian governments. No charges were ever laid but a non-judicial public hearing was put on in 2014–2015, during which the Scotland Yard representative witnessed that "the evidence suggests that the only credible explanation is in one way or another the Russian state is involved in Litvinenko's murder". Another witness stated that Dmitry Kovtun had been speaking openly about the plan to kill Litvinenko that was intended to "set an example" as a punishment for a "traitor". The main suspect in the case, a former officer of the Russian Federal Protective Service (FSO), Andrey Lugovoy, remains in Russia.

Prime Minister of Armenia

The Prime Minister of Armenia is the head of government and most senior minister within the Armenian government, and is required by the constitution to "determine the main directions of policy of the Government, manage the activities of the Government and coordinate the work of the members of the Government." Also, according to the constitution, the Prime Minister heads the Security Council, which prescribes the main directions of the country's defense policy; thus, the Prime Minister is effectively the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Armenia.. Under the new 2015 constitution, the Prime Minister is the most powerful and influential person in Armenian politics. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President of Armenia upon the vote of the National Assembly. The Prime Minister can be removed by a vote of no confidence in Parliament. In the constitutional referendum held in 2015, citizens voted in favor of transferring Armenia into a parliamentary republic.

The office of Prime Minister was first established in 1918 with the foundation of the First Republic of Armenia. It vanished when the First Republic of Armenia was incorporated into the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. When Armenia regained its independence, the office of Prime Minister was reintroduced.

Robert Kocharyan

Robert Kocharyan (Armenian: Ռոբերտ Սեդրակի Քոչարյան pronounced [ɾɔbɛɾt kʰɔtʃʰɑɾjɑn]; born 31 August 1954) is an Armenian politician who served as the second President of Armenia between 1998 and 2008. He was previously President of Nagorno-Karabakh from 1994 to 1997 and Prime Minister of Armenia from 1997 to 1998. He was arrested on December 7, 2018.

During most of his presidency, between 2001 and 2007, Armenia's economy grew on average by 12% annually, largely due to the construction boom. His presidency witnessed two of the bloodiest events in post-independence Armenian history: the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting and the killing of ten people during the 2008 presidential election protests. He has been held responsible for both events by the opposition, especially by Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his party.Both the 1998 and 2003 presidential elections were held in two rounds. They were disputed by the opposition candidates and criticized by international observers.

On July 26, 2018 the Special Investigative Service (SIS) of Armenia charged Kocharian with “overthrowing constitutional order of Armenia” during the final weeks of his rule. The SIS asked a Yerevan court to remand him in pre-trial custody. On July 27, 2018 he was arrested. On August 13, 2018 Kocharyan was freed from custody following a court ruling, but remained accused of the charges he was arrested for. On December 7, 2018 Kocharyan was arrested again following another ruling by the Court of Appeals. Armenia's Criminal Court of Appeal refused to release him from custody on February 7, 2019.

Timeline of Armenian history

This is a timeline of Armenian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Armenia and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Armenia. See also the list of Armenian kings.

Vazgen Sargsyan

Vazgen Sargsyan (Armenian: Վազգեն Սարգսյան, pronounced [vɑzˈɡɛn sɑɾkʰsˈjɑn]; 5 March 1959 – 27 October 1999) was an Armenian military commander and politician. He was the first Defence Minister of Armenia from 1991 to 1992 and then from 1995 to 1999. He served as Armenia's Prime Minister from 11 June 1999 until his assassination on 27 October of that year. He rose to prominence during the mass movement for the unification of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia in the late 1980s and led Armenian volunteer groups during the early clashes with Azerbaijani forces. Appointed Defence Minister by President Levon Ter-Petrosyan soon after Armenia's independence from the Soviet Union in late 1991, Sargsyan became the most prominent commander of Armenian forces during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. In different positions, he regulated the military operations in the war area until 1994, when a ceasefire was reached ending the war with the de facto unification of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with Armenia.

In the post-war years, Sargsyan tightened his grip on the Armed Forces, establishing himself as a virtual strongman. After strongly supporting Ter-Petrosyan to retain power, he forced the president out of office in 1998 due to his support for concessions in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement negotiations, and helped Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan to be elected president. With their relations deteriorated, Sargsyan merged the influential war veterans group Yerkrapah into the Republican Party and joined forces with Armenia's ex-communist leader Karen Demirchyan. In the May 1999 elections, their reform-minded alliance secured a comfortable majority in the National Assembly. Sargsyan became prime minister, emerging as the de facto decision-maker in Armenia with effective control of the military and the legislature.Sargsyan, along with Demirchyan and several others, was assassinated in the Armenian parliament shooting of 27 October 1999. The perpetrators were sentenced to life in prison. However, the distrust toward the trial process gave birth to a number of conspiracy theories. Some experts and politicians argue that their assassination was masterminded by Kocharyan and National Security Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Others have suspected the possible involvement of foreign powers in the shooting.

Despite his mixed legacy, Sargsyan is now widely recognized as a national hero across the political spectrum and by the public. Given the honorific Sparapet, he made significant contributions to the establishment of Armenia as independent state and ensuring its security as the founder of the Armenian Army. He has also been criticized by human rights organizations for being undemocratic, especially for his role in elections. Sargsyan was awarded the highest titles of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh—National Hero of Armenia and Hero of Artsakh.

Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium

Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium (Armenian: Վազգեն Սարգսյանի անվան Հանրապետական մարզադաշտ) also known as the Republican Stadium (Armenian: Հանրապետական մարզադաշտ, translit. Hanrapetakan Stadium) is an all-seater multi-use stadium located on 65 Vardanants street, in the Armenian capital Yerevan. The stadium was built between 1933 and 1935. It was officially opened in 1935 as Dinamo Stadium. Further developments were implemented in 1953, after the end of World War II. It is mainly used for association football and is the home ground of the Armenia national football team. The capacity of the stadium is 14,403 seats.

Yuri Bakhshyan

Yuri Bakhshyan (Armenian: Յուրի Բախշյան June 28, 1947 in Goris – October 27, 1999 in Yerevan) was an Armenian politician, the Deputy Speaker of National Assembly of Armenia.

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