ArmeniaNow.com - Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 October 24, 2003 




October 27: Public outcry and the political impact of terrorism



Among eight dead leaders were Speaker of the National Assembly Karen Demirchyan and Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan.

On October 27, 1999 - four years ago next Monday - five armed terrorists attacked the National Assembly of Armenia, turning the usual Wednesday meeting of the Government into a horror chamber.

Shouts, curses and the deafening noise of automatic weapons ended only when Armenia's leadership had been cut down to a pitiful sight of crumpled dead and dying bodies.

Among eight dead leaders were Speaker of the National Assembly Karen Demirchyan and Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan. Four deputies were wounded.

While videotape of the slaughter was broadcast worldwide, Armenian society recoiled from what it saw and a single question united the surviving leadership and its citizens: "What are we going to do now?"

Fifteen months later trial of the assassins began to an information-hungry public that also had a blood-thirst for justice or even revenge.

Media covered every detail of the trial, while the courtroom was always filled and the courthouse yard crowded with the curious.

Soon, however, it became apparent that this would be no short trail, and the wave of public interest turned from loud and crowded demonstrations to half-empty court sessions and calm anger toward coverage of the trial.

"Ordinary television viewers are subjected to informational terror," deputy of NA Aghasi Arshakyan was indignantly saying in the beginning of the trial.

"Conduct a monitoring of our mass media and you will see that they mention murderer Hunanyan more often than the president or any other political figure."

The viewing audience, who was angry with behavior of the main defendant Nairy Hunanyan, was making phone calls to TV stations, demanding to shield society from the necessity of seeing every day the self-contented look of his face.

But half empty court rooms and anger can not be regarded as a reflection of society's true attitude towards that notorious trial. Society dropped its expectations of justice. And hatred toward the criminals reduced to smoldering anger. And the trial that has stretched nearly to a third year became something of a political barometer.

Political parties and fractions split over the trial into blocs. In spring 2001 a temporary parliamentary commission was created just after the beginning of court examination. The commission was to look into the death of Norair Yeghiazaryan, one of the defendants who died under suspicious circumstances while in detention.

But instead of investigating Yeghiazaryan's death, the commission became a forum for attempts to impeach President Robert Kocharyan, on the grounds that he failed in his constitutional duty to be a guarantor for the security of high-ranking officials.

In fact the process of mixing trial with policy started since the first days. To some extent it was unavoidable taking into account the nature of the crimes and their impact on the political administration of the country.

And today, four years later, the trial is still a political flashpoint and the courtroom itself a theater for political propaganda.

And those who once complained that the trail was dragging on too long are now saying that it is being brought to an artificially speedy conclusion for the same, politically-motivated, reasons.

 


According to Agnes
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  Inside
 

October 27: A few minutes of terror, a few years of asking why

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October 27: Public outcry and the political impact of terrorism

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The Tragedy of Trafficking: Organizations want to see a more active fight in Armenia

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The Week in seven days

 
 


The Arts in seven days

 

  Photos of the week
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Surviving members of the legendary Ararat football team were reunited Friday October 24 for a match to mark the 30th anniversary of their Soviet league
championship and cup double-winning season in 1973. The team played an all-star former Soviet national side at Yerevan's Hrazdan stadium.

 

 





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