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 kILLINFS OF Politics

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Number of posts : 132
Registration date : 2007-01-11

PostSubject: kILLINFS OF Politics   Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:40 am

The assassination attempt against the Mayor of Gyumri Monday night (see Gyumri Mayor Shot), leaving three dead and three wounded, is the eighth high-profile and public attack within just over a year. In all the cases, only two arrests have been made, and none brought to justice.

A September car bombing was among high-profile attacks
2006 ended notoriously, recording six incidents in which eight were killed in mob-like hits, including two un-involved passersby, both women – one in a popular shopping district, and one who was selling products beside the road to Armavir.

As the killing spree closed out last year, the attacks were seen mostly as settling private scores. Monday’s shooting, coming as Mayor Vardan Ghukasyan was leaving a high-level political party meeting, invariably leads to questions of whether political ill will is behind his and other attacks.

Given the overlap of clan rule and party-affiliation in Armenia, many here speculate that other attacks will be part of the election campaign that officially begins Sunday.

A recap of the past 13 months:

• March 4 (2006): Ashot Vardanyan 54, director of Kaghtsrik Ltd. (pastry company), shot dead around 1 p.m. on Sayat Nova Avenue, Yerevan.

• June 10: Sedrak Zatikyan, 26, (owner of a popular Yerevan café), son of late National Assemblyman and district head, Vahan Zatikyan, shot around 3 p.m. dead on a street in Yerevan. Also killed was Karine Sargsyan, 37, mother of three.

• August 8: Alexander Givoyev 52, alleged criminal, popularly known as godfather of 1,000 children, shot dead around 1 p.m., on Armavir Road outside Yerevan. Also killed was Gyulnara Karapetyan, a roadside vendor.

• August 30: Tigran Petrosyan, 42, head of the Dalar village administration, Ararat region, shot dead around 9:30 a.m., near his home.

• September 6: Shahen Hovasapyan, 48, head of the investigative department of the State Tax Service, killed around 10 a.m., when his car exploded from a bomb under the passenger seat. Wounded were Hovasapyan’s son, Grigor, and driver Andranik Charchyan.

• December 20: Roland Mkrtchyan, 60, head of the Nalbandyan village administration, Armavir region, shot dead, around 3 a.m., near his home

• February 15 (this year): Artashes Hambartsyumyan, 32, and Mher Poghosyan, 34, shot to death around 4 a.m. inside Relax nightclub. Both believed to have clan connections.

• April 3: Hovhannes Mirzakhanyan, 37; Sisak Vardanyan, 26; and Artyom Adamyan, 22, bodyguards, shot dead from at least 77 shots fired into vehicles also carrying Gyumri Mayor Ghukhasyan, Deputy Mayor Gagik Manukyan, and driver Varazdat Ghukasyan, who were wounded.

Vardanyan’s assassination remains opens, though investigators have a suspect, who has not been captured. The only case from last year in which police have made an arrest was in the killing of the Dalar village head, when Gegham Badalyan was caught on the spot.

Politicians became increasingly concerned with the atmosphere of impunity and criminalization in February 2005 after a shoot-out involving bodyguards and associates of Members of Parliament. Law enforcement learned of the incident when three men turned up in hospital with gun-shot wounds. Media reported that the apparent turf war involved as many as 30, while later it emerged that as many as 200 were involved. Six were arrested, and later found guilty of crimes of involuntary manslaughter, illegal possession of firearms and hooliganism, leading to sentences of from 18 months to five years. Armen Novikov, given the stiffest sentence, was released after four months. Soon after his release he, himself, was attacked and severely beaten. One man was charged with organizing the shootout and was given a suspended sentence.

That case drew comment on the floor of the National Assembly, when MP Gagik Avetisyan of the Orinats Yerkir Party (then part of the ruling coalition) compared the fight with the Battle of Avarayr (a historic battle between Armenia and Persia in 451 A.D.)

The MP voiced concern over an apparent blurring of the lines between politics and crime. His concerns were confirmed in the coming year, and appear increasingly valid, leading to dread within the public and apprehension among politicians.

Shahen Hovasapyan was head of a state tax service department
“Impunity gives way to new crimes,” MP and deputy chairman of the People’s Party of Armenia Grigor Harutyunyan says. “This system is created by the authorities, all this is controlled and managed by them and what is most important, any such kind of crime is slurred over by the authorities themselves.”

Following the killing of Dalar village head Petrosyan, it was learned that his killer, Gegham Badalyan, had made other attempts on Petrosyan, was caught, then released by police.

“One can only wonder at the possibility of having a person who was engaged in a criminal case and who has fired in the direction of the village head’s house, released after he was caught. This is nothing but an all-permissiveness,” Aram Sargsyan, chairman of the Hanrapetutyun (Republic) Party says.

Sargsyan says it is outrageous that newspaper editor Aram Babajanyan was held in custody for avoiding military service, while a man who has committed a double crime (meaning Badalyan’s attempts on Petrosyan) is set free.

“This means in fact the authorities in this country bring people to trial only for being oppositional,” Sargsyan says.

The oppositional head of the village administration, the villagers say, enjoyed everybody’s respect, and add they had elected him on their own will, despite pressures against it.

“Village head Petrosyan was trying to be honest in his work, that’s why they silenced him; all this is done to demoralize and to keep people in the atmosphere of fear, because it is otherwise impossible to reproduce the criminal and the corrupt regime,” says Harutyunyan.

When Armavir region village head Mkrtchyan was murdered (after only four months in office), his wife organized a demonstration in Yerevan, calling the killing a political assassination.

They say Mkrtchyan’s only rival was Andranik Hazroyan of the Republican Party. Mkrtchyan himself had been a Republican before the election, but switched to the Prosperous Armenia party on the eve of the election, then was elected by a margin twice exceeding Hazroyan’s results.

MP Manuk Gasparyan says the killings of the village heads reveal the “gladiators’ fight” between the Republicans – a party led by newly-appointed Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan – and by Prosperous Armenia, whose strongman is tycoon Gagik “Dodi Gago” Tsarukyan.

Speculation of such a war followed Monday’s attempt on the Gyumri mayor, as it was rumored that Ghukhasyan, a Republican, had been considering switching to the Prosperous Armenia party.

“The assassination of the village head and the assassination attempt of the mayor of Gyumri are just the beginning of the great fight for the distribution of power,” deputy Gasparyan says.

Despite the assassinations are mainly qualified as having political underpinnings, crime statistics at the Prosecutor General’s Office for 2006 says no political assassinations took last year.

Sona Truzyan, public relations coordinator of the Prosecutor’s Office says the cases of 2006, with the exception of the Dalar village head assassination, are still in the stage of preliminary investigation.

“The cases are not closed, while total permissiveness continues. It is dangerous even to go to the street,” says Aram Manukyan of the Armenian All-National Movement party.
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PostSubject: Re: kILLINFS OF Politics   Tue Apr 10, 2007 11:27 pm

wow Smile good research. very impressed that you are keeping up to date Smile
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