16.4 Trials in Yerevan

No 16 : 31 October 1970

In February 1969 The Armenian Supreme Court (consisting of A.S. Yegiazaryan, chairman; G.M. Gamaryan, state prosecutor; G. Aroyan and A. Mosoyan, counsels for the defence) considered a case in closed session.

The defendants were:

  • O.M. Vasilyan (b. 1936);
  • A.U. Babayan (b. 1915), a teacher who fought in the Second World War, was wounded seven times and received decorations and medals;
  • Sh. P. Gyunashyan (b. 1939), a construction engineer;
  • S.Kh. Torosyan (b. 1930), a driver;
  • A.A. Antonyan (b. 1931);
  • and G.R. Ekimyan (b. 1936).

They were accused under Articles 65-1 and 67 of the Armenian Criminal Code (equivalent to Articles 70 and 72 of the Russian Code) of slandering Soviet reality, denying the equality of nations in the USSR, and circulating slanderous fabrications about the internal and foreign policy of the Soviet government.

The defendants had written articles calling for the creation of an independent Armenia and circulated a leaflet, “We can no longer keep silent”. They had prepared 343 copies of a journal In the Name of the Motherland.

The defendants pleaded guilty.

The court sentenced Vasilyan, Babayan, Ekimyan and Torosyan to six years’ imprisonment, Antonyan to five years, Gyunashyan to four years, and Arutunyan to eighteen months in a strict-regime corrective-labour colony.

*

In February 1970 the Armenian Supreme Court (consisting of [A.E.] Khanamiryan, chairman; Shlepchak, State prosecutor; and Arevshatyan, Melinyan and Mosoyan, counsels for the defence) considered the case of five twenty-year-old defendants:

  • P.A. Airikyan (b. 1949), a student of the Erevan Polytechnic Institute;
  • A.O. Ashikyan (b. 1949), a student;
  • A.Ts. Navasardyan (b. 1950), a motor mechanic;
  • R.S. Barsegov (b. 1950), a mechanic who was brought up in a children’s home;
  • A.Z. Khachatryan (b. 1951), a student of Erevan University.

The charge was brought under Articles 65-1 and 67 of the Armenian Criminal Code (equivalent to Articles 70 and 72 of the Russian Code).

The defendants were charged with organising in 1967 the illegal group “Shant” (named after the writer Levon Shant [1869-1951]), with the object of studying the history of the Armenian people, defending the purity of the Armenian language, and struggling both against the assimilation of the Armenian people and for its unification (the Armenian Republic includes a large part of Eastern Armenia, while Western Armenia is part of Turkey under the terms of the Soviet-Turkish treaties concluded in Moscow and Kars in 1921).

hayrikyan, paruir (as student)

P. A. Airikyan [Hayrykian] was charged with leading the group, and also with reading and giving to others the newspaper Paros (The Beacon) and the “Programme and Constitution of the United National Party”.

On 24 April 1969 the defendants organised a radio broadcast at the monument to the victims of the Armenian Massacre of 1915. They were charged with reading at their meetings articles on the fate of the Armenian people and on Soviet nationalities policy (“Not by daily bread alone”, “Sacrificed again to Russian-Turkish diplomacy”, “Methods of solving the Armenian question” and others). The youths had prepared and circulated leaflets protesting against “Russian chauvinism” and demanding the return to Armenia of Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] and Nakhichevan (regions transferred in 1924 to the Azerbaijani Republic) and the creation of an independent Armenian State.

During the judicial examination Airikyan, Ashikyan, Navasardyan, Barsegov and Khachatryan admitted committing certain of the actions of which they were accused. They stated, however, that they had done so because of their national-patriotic convictions, and that their actions could not therefore be regarded as grounds for criminal proceedings.

Airikyan denied having led the group.

The sentence of the court took account of the youth of the defendants, their “insufficient political maturity”, the positive character-references from their places of work and study, and their participation in socially useful work. The court noted that long-term imprisonment could have the most serious consequences for the health of the accused and for their further education.

The court sentenced Airikyan to four years’ imprisonment, Ashikyan and Navasardyan to two years in strict-regime corrective-labour colonies, and Barsegov and Khachatryan to six months. As, however, the latter had already served their term of punishment in preliminary detention, they were to be released from custody.

The sentence is not subject to appeal [as it was imposed by a Supreme Court].