over the murder of TV journalist Tigran Naghdalyan
turned into a political flashpoint this week,
following remarks from an attorney representing
slain Prime Minister Vazgen Sarksyan claiming
a link between Naghdalyan's murder and the ongoing
court trial related to the October 27, 1999 Parliament
Naghdalyan, a long-time popular journalist and
head of Armenia's public television station, was
shot to death in the entry of his parents' home
on December 28.
Naghdalyan was appointed to the leadership of
Armenia's public television by President Robert
Kocharyan and was a supporter of the President.
Often he was critical of opponents of Kocharyan
on his weekly program "Orakarg".
In an announcement immediately following Naghdalyan's
death, Kocharyan blamed the murder on opposition
But Moscow attorney Oleg Yunoshev's comments
during a press conference January 14 lay the blame
for Naghdalyan's murder on the journalist's knowledge
of and alleged complicity in the October 27 terrorists
Naghdalyan was expected to be called to testify
in the trial and Yunoshev claims that if he had
already given such testimony, he would still be
alive. Members of the opposition are claiming
that Naghdalyan was killed to prevent his testimony
from showing a connection between the assassinations
and the President's office.
Yunoshev based his accusations, in part, on what
he says was Naghdalyan's editing of the videotape
that was shown on public television of the Parliament
Actual footage from the National Assembly is
11 minutes longer than the version the public
Military prosecutor Gagik Jangiryan doesn't reject
the fact that there are two original records,
where the incidents taken place on October 27
in the building of the National Assembly are shot.
"On November 1 we had one tape," he
said in an interview given to H1 television. "Later
it became clear that there was another one and
we confiscated it."
says that between October 27-31, 1999, Naghdalyan
approved editing of the tape and gave only the
edited version to the prosecutor and that only
a comparison of the two will reveal what happened
in full. Further, Yunoshev charges that Naghdalyan
was under orders to approve the edit.
The lawyer made further sensational claims adding
that he is in possession of a new videotape from
the October 27 event that shows armed men near
the hall of the National Assembly who were not
recognized as members of (the accused) Nairy Hunanyan's
Yunoshev says he has witnesses who are ready
to state in court that organizers of the Parliament
killings are high-ranking officials and that he
shall call them to testify.
"Tigran Naghdalyan is not the first victim
connected with October 27," the lawyer said.
"Let's remember the death in the isolation
ward of one of the accused by this case. We have
information that five more people who had any
relation to that incident and could provide with
any information concerning complicity of high
ranking officials, have been killed. The names
of those officials will be named in court in the
Lawyer Marina Janoyan, who represented Vazgen
Sargsyan's family interests shares the point of
view that if Naghdalyan were alive he could have
enlightened matters concerning October 27.
"Naghdalyan had to hand original records
to the investigation bodies, which he hasn't done
despite the fact that we had raised this issue
in the court," Janoyan says. "Participants
of the case haven't gotten the opportunity to
watch the original till now, while everybody has
known that Naghdalyan kept the original."
But though Janoyan thinks Naghdalyan could have
given crucial testimony, she doesn't think he
"Tigran Naghdalyan was a very intelligent
and well-prepared young man," she said. "People
thinking that Naghdalyan would appear before court
to tell about things which really happened that
day or something they wanted to hear from him
The October 27 trial has been postponed since
last Friday due to the illness of Judge Samvel
Uzunyan. It is not known when the court will return
The timing of the judge's sickness is also being
used by the opposition in an attempt to incite
suspicion about what might be said in court.
"What is the reason for Uzunyan's unexpected
sickness," asks Suren Surenyan, Head of "Hanrapetutyun"
party Press Department, who predicts that the
trial will continue only after February 19.
President Kocharyan, whose campaign (as well
as those of the opposition) officially began Tuesday,
responded to Yunoshev's claims by calling the
attorney "a tramp with a lawyer's document."
Yunoshev replied to the President's statement
by stressing that he had previously been a prosecutor
in Russia and had received commendation from Russia's
Further, the President said Yunoshev's claims
are linked to (Varzgen Sarksyan's brother) former
Prime Minister Aram Sarksyan's Presidential election
"One shouldn't go to elections with corpses,"
Campaigning in the Aragatsotn region on Wednesday,
Aram Sarksyan responded: "(Kocharyan) himself
came to power through the corpses. What else can
one expect from this person?"