March 15 Armen Sargsyan, brother of assassinated
Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan was arrested and
charged with organizing the December murder of
Tigran Naghdalyan, head of Public TV of Armenia.
Sargsyan is the ninth to be arrested since the
Presidential runoff March 5. (Another Sargsyan
brother, Aram, was a candidate in the preliminary
round of elections before throwing his support
to Opposition runoff candidate Stepan Demirchyan.)
The official statement on the first six arrests
came soon after election polls closed. Later a
gun, a "TT", said to be a favored weapon
of Russian mafia contract hits, was found and
linked to the crime.
Sargsyan's arrest sparked protests among Armenia's
oppositional political parties. But it is the
action of his mother, Greta, that is getting most
Monday (March 17) the Sargsyan's mother organized
a sit-in protest outside the official residence
of President Robert Kocharyan, vowing that she
would maintain her protest until opposition activists
arrested during the Presidential runoff campaign
Greta Sargsyan says the arrest of her son is
a "continuation of the October 27 terrorist
act". Vazgen Sargsyan was one of eight high-level
officials killed October 27, 1999 by gunmen who
About 7 p.m. on December 28 last year, Naghdalyan
was killed by a single shot to the head as he
stood near the entry to his parents' home in Yerevan.
A vocal supporter of President Kocharyan (who
appointed Naghdalyan to the TV post), Naghdalyan's
television programs often aimed criticism at the
President's opponents. Prosecutors as well as
the President himself have suggested that Naghdalyan's
murder was politically motivated by opposition
parties in anticipation of the election campaign
(A former attorney for Vazgen Sargsyan's family,
however, has speculated that Naghdalyan was killed
because of information he held that implicated
Kocharyan supporters in the Parliament assassinations.)
Tigran Naghdalyan was born in 1966 in Yerevan.
He graduated from the Faculty of Latin and German
languages of the Philological Department of Yerevan
After graduating from the University he had started
his activities in the political area. He worked
as an instructor in the Central Committee's Komsomol
(Communist Youth) and still holding that position
he presented his candidature to the Supreme Soviet
(present National Assembly) in 1990 during the
elections of deputies. He became member of Armenian
Revolutionary Dashnak Party and several years
later he was dismissed.
In 1991 he started his journalistic activities
in "Hay Lur" news program on State TV,
which by that time was headed by the present head
of Public TV Alexan Harutyunyan. The programming
was the first "alternative" journalism
of the new style for Armenia, and it only lasted
until January 1, 1992.
1992 Naghdalyan was appointed to the post of the
head of Dashnak's "Hay Lur" news service
and again he presented his candidature to the
Supreme Soviet and was elected.
In 1994 he founded "Past" (fact) news
agency. Later he became correspondent to the "Azatutiun"
(freedom) radio station, where his reports became
known for their clear eye with Armenian language
In 1998 during presidential elections Tigran
Naghdalyan, already as a head of National TV,
was one of the main organizers of Kocharyan's
Over the past four to five years Naghdalyan's
activities were more political. He became one
of Kocharyan's main supporters.
Following the Parliament assassinations, Naghdalyan's
support of Kocharyan became more pronounced. His
Orakarg ("Agenda") television program
was a main source of positive programming for
the President and a thorn of contention for the
The "Justice" Coalition of the Opposition,
which is headed by Demirchyan, Aram Sargsyan and
former Presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan,
released a statement saying that Armen Sargsyan's
arrest is part of a mass sweep by authorities
to shut down those protesting the validity of
The arrests, the statement claims, are aimed
"to prolong illegal government and prevent
Aram Sargsyan says "he (Kocharyan) did not
arrest my brother but he took him as a hostage.
He tries to make me silent."
In reply to the sit-in and statements made by
opposition parties, reporter of "Hay Lur"
news program of Public TV read Armen Sargsyan's
relative Hovhanes Harutyunyan's testimony to the
According to the Prosecutor's Office, Harutyunyan
told investigators that Armen Sargsyan ordered
Naghdalyan's murder and offered the killer $50,000.
After meeting with Armen Sargsyan on Monday,
attorney Robert Grigoryan said that his client
has not pled guilty.
According to the Associated Press, last year
the United States government imposed sanctions
against Armen Sargsyan, accusing him of having
ties to a company that allegedly sold technology
to Iran that could be used in the development
of weapons of mass destruction. Sargsyan has denied