May 12 2005

Russia Denies Involvement in 1999 Armenian Parliament Shooting


The Russian embassy in Armenia has denied reports that Russian
special services were involved in the shooting at the Armenian
parliament in 1999 that killed eight people including the then
Armenian prime minister.

The embassy issued a statement quoted by the ITAR-TASS news agency
`in connection with recent press articles about the alleged
involvement of the Russian special services in the tragic events at
the Armenian parliament on 27 October 1999.'

`This kind of claim, which has nothing to do with reality, is being
spread by people who are well-known for their hatred of Russia's
democratic reforms,' the embassy noted. They `are pursuing certain
provocative objectives aimed at creating a negative image of the new
Russia in the eyes of the world community.'

The embassy described the claims as `a doomed attempt being made to
undermine the centuries-old relations between the Armenian and
Russian people.'

Former Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Alexander Litvinenko said
in various interviews that the Main Intelligence Directorate of the
General-Staff of the Russian armed forces had organized the terrorist
attack in the Armenian parliament. Litvinenko fled to the UK from
criminal charges brought by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office.
The embassy called him the `boss' to Nairi Unanyan who led the group
of gunmen that attacked the parliament.

The statement said Litvinenko `is patronized [in the UK] by a
well-known oligarch', an allusion to Boris Berezovsky.

The gunmen killed the Armenian prime minister Vazgen Sarkissian, the
parliament speaker Karen Demirchan and six ministers and deputies.