On January 19, the chief of Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosian’s security service, Maj. Gen. Roman Ghazarian, was fired upon in an ambush outside Yerevan. A day later, Ruben Hairapetian, an official of the governing Armenian Pan-National Union and head of one of Yerevan’s districts, was wounded in a grenade attack in the capital. On the same day a time-bomb was defused under an Armenian embassy car in Moscow. Finally, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and State Security, Maj. Gen. Artsrun Markarian, who commands Armenia’s internal troops, was seriously wounded yesterday by gunfire near his Yerevan home.
The perpetrators in all four incidents are as yet unidentified and their motives obscure. Markarian and Hairapetian are considered close associates of the powerful Vano Siradeghian. He is the leader of the governing Armenian Pan-National Movement (APNM) and serves concurrently as mayor of Yerevan. Siradeghian, who was until recently Internal Affairs Minister, is a stalwart supporter of Ter-Petrosian.
Reacting in a statement yesterday, the APNM Board openly linked the "terrorist acts" to differences over Karabakh among various political forces and within the government itself. Urging continuity in Armenia’s participation in OSCE-mediated negotiations, the statement urged that political polarization — including the use of such labels as "patriots" and "traitors" — be avoided in the context of Karabakh. The statement appeared to target hard-line opponents of Ter-Petrosian’s recent proposals for a compromise. APNM leaders and Siradeghian personally have recently recommended that Ter-Petrosian dismiss or discipline the hard-liners. This group includes Prime Minister Robert Kocharian, Internal Affairs and State Security Minister Serge Sarkisian, Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, and, apparently, Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian. (See Monitor, January 15)
The two Sarkisians (who are not related) were until recently closely aligned with Siradeghian. The trio engineered Ter-Petrosian’s suspect victory in the 1996 presidential election and the ensuing repression the opposition. At present, however, the Sarkisians and Kocharian are apparently making overtures to that same opposition, seeing it as a potential ally in the internal dispute over policy on Karabakh.
For their part, some representatives of the nationalist opposition, along with some independent local observers, believe that pro-presidential circles may have inspired at least some of the terrorist incidents, or at least are prepared to exploit them in order to unseat the government and prevail in the policy dispute over Karabakh. (Noyan-Tapan, Armenpress, January 20-21)
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