YEREVAN — After nearly six weeks of uncertainty Armenian authorities have set a date for the funeral of Vano Siradeghyan, a prominent politician and former interior minister who fled Armenia over two decades ago.
A government committee announced on Wednesday that a memorial service for Siradeghyan will take place in the Opera House in Yerevan on December 3, while the late politician will be buried in his native village of Koti the next day.
Siradeghyan was one of the leaders of a popular movement for Armenia’s unification with Nagorno-Karabakh who came to power in 1990. He became one of the newly independent country’s most powerful men when serving as interior minister in the administration of its first President Levon Ter-Petrosian from 1992-1996.
One year after Ter-Petrosian resigned in 1998, Siradeghyan was charged with ordering a string of contract killings. He strongly denied ordering those killings, saying that the charges were fabricated as part of then President Robert Kocharian’s efforts to neutralize his political foes.
Siradeghyan fled Armenia in 2000 ahead of the Armenian parliament’s decision to allow law-enforcement authorities to arrest him. Although the authorities had Siradeghyan placed on Interpol’s wanted list, his whereabouts always remained unknown to the public.
The death of the 74-year-old Siradeghyan was announced by his wife and son on October 16. They did not specify its cause or reveal his last place of residence.
The Armenian government decided afterwards to form a commission that will organize his funeral.
During an online press conference on Tuesday Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said: “I think that the commission will make decisions and the remains of Vano Siradeghyan will be transported to Armenia.”
Siradeghyan lived abroad under a new and false name, according to Khachatur Sukiasyan, a wealthy businessman and pro-government parliamentarian who has long been close to the ex-minister.
This is why, Sukiasyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service in October, repatriating his body was fraught with some “difficulties”, including legal issues.