Trdat Musheghyan

"It's a Fabrication": Robert Kocharyan Refutes Charge He Usurped State Power in March 2008

Former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, who’s been charged with “usurping state power” during the March1-2, 2008 public protests in Yerevan that claimed the lives of ten individuals, has said that the newly launched court case delving into those events would be “a curse hanging over the head of the Armenian people if prosecuted in such a manner.”

The protests followed the contested election of Serzh Sargsyan as president to replace Kocharyan.

Kocharyan, in an interview with Yerkir Media, described the charge as a “fabrication”.

"It never crossed my mind that it would be possible to create such a fabricated criminal case in our time. One based on facts that are evident to all and that were totally with the scope of the law and the constitution,” Kocharyan said.

Kocharyan blamed  Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Armenia’s first president, and his supporters for overthrowing the country’s constitutional order in 2008 by organizing almost two weeks of demonstrations after Ter-Petrosyan lost the election.

“As president, I adhered to the constitutional order and ensured that order. To say that I somehow overthrew that order and that the top army brass participated in that process…It was the opposition who violated the constitutional order. It was Levon Ter-Petrosyan. He wasn’t elected and received only 21.5% of the vote. They said they had been elected and that they must overthrow the state system. One must have a sick imagination to say that we overthrew the constitutional order, or to even assume that such a thing is possible,” Sargsyan said.

As to the widespread belief that the February 2008 presidential election was fraudulent, Kocharyan said that the first to be investigated should be the members of the Central Electoral Commission to see if they rigged the election results. The ex-president said that the Constitutional Court should also be investigated because it ratified the election results.

“I see this as a bomb placed under our government since reviewing or mocking the Constitutional Court’s decision in such a manner is like a bomb under our republic that will explode. Our entire legal system is under threat today,” Kocharyan said.

Kocharyan refuted allegations that before leaving office he ordered the army onto the streets of Yerevan to maintain public order, claiming that on February 23, 2008, he met with the military brass and instructed the defense minister to keep the army out of domestic politics.

Early this month, Armenia’s Special Investigative Service issued an arrest warrant for retired General Mikayel Harutyunyan, the defense minister during the 2008 protests, charging him and other top government officials of disregarding several articles of the constitution in an attempt to quash the unrest following the contested February 19 presidential election.

A Yerevan court must now decide whether to keep Kocharyan in pre-trial detention.