Armenian Dissident Goes to Paris
PARIS (AP) _ An Armenian dissident expelled from the Soviet Union flew from Rome to Paris on Monday, saying he would try to return to his homeland and to take an active role in its battle for greater autonomy.
Paruyr Ayrikyan, 39, was banished from the Soviet Union July 21 on charges of slandering the country. He first went to Ethiopia, then traveled to Rome Saturday to arrange asylum in the United States.
Ayrikyan said he planned to spend several days in Paris visiting his cousin, Sylva Ayrikyan, and recovering from a sore throat.
″My objective is to return to Armenia,″ he told reporters at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport before leaving for Paris. ″My place is there.″
In Paris, Ayrikyan was welcomed in a brief ceremony at Charles de Gaulle Airport by a delegation from the Armenian community and by Bernard Kouchner, the minister for humanitarian action in Socialist Premier Michel Rocard’s government.
Ayrikyan was released last year after 17 years of imprisonment.
He was jailed again on March 25 after he reported to Western journalists about the campaign to have the overwhelmingly Armenian region of Nagorno- Karabak h annexed to the republic of Armenia. It is now part of the neighboring Azerbaijan republic.
Asked about the policies of greater openness and individual freedom championed by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Ayrikyan said, ″While there is only one party ... you can’t talk about a real democratic process.″
Ayrikyan said he planned later to travel to Bonn, West Germany, to be reunited with his wife and three children, who are still in the Soviet Union.
The dissident said he then would go to the United States. He has said he will settle in the Los Angeles area.