Armenia deports U.S. citizen accused of plotting seizure of power

Associated Press Worldstream
April 28, 2004 Wednesday

Armenia deports U.S. citizen accused of plotting seizure of power

YEREVAN, Armenia

A U.S. citizen was deported Wednesday after being arrested on charges
of working toward the forceful seizure of power in Armenia, the U.S.
Embassy said.

Artur Vardanian was arrested in the Armenian capital on April 22. He
had dual Armenian and U.S. citizenship, but Armenian President Robert
Kocharian revoked Vardanian’s Armenian passport the day after his

His lawyer, Ashot Sarkisian, said Vardanian was taken under police
guard to the airport early Wednesday and deported to the United
States. No more details about his destination were available.

“The criminal case against the defendant was closed in connection
with changed circumstances,” Sarkisian said.

Vardanian was an active supporter of Stepan Demirchian, Kocharian’s
main opponent in last year’s election.

Kocharian won a second term, but the election sparked mass protests,
including nearly daily demonstrations between the first round and the
runoff. Opposition groups alleged widespread violations in both
rounds of the vote, which was followed by a parliamentary ballot in
which the pro-government party won the most votes.

In recent weeks, a new series of protest rallies have been held,
raising political tension in this ex-Soviet republic. Some 7,000
people participated in Tuesday’s protest, calling for Kocharian’s

Vardanian, a former resident of Yerevan, received U.S. citizenship
after marrying an American citizen in the 1990s. Armenian authorities
accused him of failing to surrender his Armenian passport and
repeatedly entering Armenia illegally. They say he was involved in
political activities there.

Authorities said that this time, Vardanian arrived at the beginning
of April and participated in unsanctioned opposition meetings.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS