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Calls, mailer bring anger

June 07, 2006|By Fred Ortega

GLENDALE ? A campaign mailing and phone calls linking Assembly candidate Paul Krekorian and the Armenian National Committee to a terrorism suspect convicted of weapons charges has many community leaders outraged and some crying racism.

The calls and mailers, sent out by the Oakland-based California Latino Leadership Fund, were delivered to thousands of Glendale and Burbank area voters in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary. The mailers feature a mug shot of Mourad Topalian, a former Armenian National Committee chairman who pleaded guilty for possession of stolen explosives and two machine guns in Ohio in 2000, according to FBI records. The postcard-sized campaign piece also states that Krekorian accepted the Armenian National Committee's endorsement in his run for the State Assembly and helped get "[Armenian National Committee] books and literature into libraries for schoolchildren."

"It is very sad whenever any campaign is tainted with tactics that appeal to hatred and bigotry," Krekorian said. "I think people care about what matters to all Californians, which is improving education, providing healthcare to everyone and protecting the environment ? not personal attacks and character assassination."

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The Armenian National Committee "books and literature" cited in the mailer were actually 1,000 books in Armenian and English about Armenian culture and history that were donated to the Burbank Library system at the request of library officials to expand their international section, he said, adding that the Burbank City Council honored his wife Tamar Krekorian and the committee for their efforts in securing the books.

The sinister undertone of the mailings contrast sharply with the true spirit of the Armenian National Committee, said Zanku Armenian, board member of the committee's Western Region based in Glendale.

Topalian, who the FBI suspect was a leader of the Justice Commandos of the Armenian Genocide, resigned his post after the charges surfaced, Armenian said.

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