Three years today since the massacre of March 1st, 2008, in the center of Yerevan. We continue to the list of the main players of this crime, presenting today the major one, the president Robert Kocharyan.
Let us start with his biography. Kocharyan was born in 1954, August 31, in the town of Stepanakert (Nagorno Karabakh region), graduated from Yerevan Polytechnic Institute’s Electro-Technical Faculty correspondence department. Since 1971, he had been working in Stepanakert, at the electric plant, was a turner-fitter, then, mechanical engineer. Since 1980 he held various positions in the Karabakh Komsomol party, had been a Komsomol secretary at the Knitting Factory, then the secretary of the Communist Party Committee at the “Karsholk” (silk factory in Stepanakert).
In 1989 and 1990, Kocharian was elected deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia (RA), in 1991, first deputy of the Supreme Council of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It should be noted that in the Supreme Council elections of 1991 Robert Kocharyan put forward his candidacy for President of the Supreme Council, but gained only six votes, so the Chairman of the Supreme Council had been elected Arthur Mkrtchyan. Only after Mkrtchyan´s assassination, without elections and as a result of some administrative changes, Kocharyan eventually held the posts of State Defense Committee president of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Prime Minister. He was elected to the board of Armenia National Movement (ANM) elections, but over time became clear his commitment to the Dashnak party, as well as the Armenian Trial, which was due to the financial capabilities of both of the latter, as well as their terrorist ideology and actions (Lisbon), as recorded at the international level. In 1994, December 24, by the decision of the Supreme Council, and in November 1996, by the elections, Robert Kocharyan became NKR President. in 1997, March 20, he was appointed RA Prime Minister.
Seizure of power with fraud
On February 3rd, 1998, RA first president, Levon Ter-Petrossian, resigned. In 1998, Robert Kocharyan, not holding the ten-year citizenship in Armenia and not being registered in Yerevan, was nominated as a presidential candidate for the snap presidential elections. Bar Association, in response to its inquiry to the National Bureau of Registration on February 18, 1998, regarding the verification of Kocharyan´s registration in Yerevan, got the negative reply; i.e. “Robert Kocharyan, born in 1954, is not registered in Yerevan”.
Let us recall that in 1998, during the pre-election campaign, the opponents to Kocharyan´s presidential candidacy proposed the major counter-argument, appealing to the second part of the Article N 50 of the RA Constitution, that states: “The RA president can be elected any citizen of RA, premanently residing in Armenia for the last ten years”. Meanwhile, Kocharyan was not a citizen of the RA in the years 1988-1998, and thus could not be considered a permanent RA resident.
Shortly after the start of his rule, the Armenian people were convinced that the person on the presidential trone, having gained the power by the Constitution violation, could not become a guarantor of the Constitution and constitutional order… Thus, in 1998, March 30, by falsifications and shameful elections violations, Kocharyan became RA president.
Kocharyan´s regime consolidation
The October 27, 1999 crime became the most important point for Kocharyan´s regime challenging, as well as for getting rid of the status of the “Queen of England”. The Karen Demirchyan-Vazgen Sargsyan political tandem held the major bloc in the Parliament, the government itself was under their full control. This was a serious obstacle for Kocharyan, and October 27 in reality became the destination for his regime consolidation. After a little hesitation, Kocharyan got down to business: he got rid of the people of not his own team: Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan, Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan, as well as all other ministers and officials of the Republican Party and HZHK (APP) (Armenian People´s Party).
As of October 27, the organizers of the slaughter are not yet known. The main suspects of the criminal case, Aleksan Harutyunyan and Tigran Naghdalyan, after their release form prison, were appointed to high positions by the order of Kocharyan. Other important witnesses, such as Tigran Nazaryan and Nairi Badalyan, left Armenia freely and settled in the United States. Another suspect, Mushegh Movsisyan, was released form prison, and later became victim of a car accident (May 28, 2004). On December 28, 2002, Tigran Naghdalyan was shot in the head by the main entrance to his parents´ house. One of the direct performers of the crime, Vram Galstyan, committed suicide by hanging in his single cell. Another assistant to the crime, Norayr Yeghiazaryan, died of electrocution by the electric tile in his cell (N.Yeghiazaryan himself was electrician by profession).
On September 1st, 2004, died in unknown circumstances another important witness in the criminal case, Rima Hovhannisyan, the former nurse of the Parliament.
During 2000-2003, using all possible means, Kocharyan implemented the dismantling program of Armenia´s political system, obeying it to his own needs. On this matter, Kocharyan created a circle of supporters and assistants, both in the Parliament and the government, headed by Andranik Margaryan.
On March 5, 2003, Kocharyan assumed the Presidential Office, after the second shameful falsificated elections. The presidential candidate Stepan Demirchyan´s team complained about the elections; in the end, the Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Harutyunyan, in order to “protect the country from the destructive shocks and to establish a relationship of trust and solidarity between the state and the society”, by the paragraph 6 of his order, suggested the government to hold a referendum of confidence in the nearest year, which was naturally ignored.
During the years of Kocharyan´s presidency in Armenia, the management system became totally corrupted, the criminal olgarchy got the levers of the power and the economy, corruption and racket became state policy. To repay an insignificant debt, Kocharyan, on his own initiative, handed to Russia the entire energy sytem of Armenia, Armenia became isolated; not admitting the legitimacy of the government, the society took the road of emigration, meanwhile the majority survived due to overseas remittances. The ten years of Kocharyan´s presidency leaded to the total elimination of judicial authorities, a series of mysterious, scandalous murders of high officials (Defense Deputy Minister, Colonel Artsrun Margaryan, internal forces commander Vahram Khorkhoruni, Solicitor General Henrik Khachatryan), which were not disclosed. Kocharyan showed a “special” relationship towards the freedom of speech and the press: all the electronic media were under control, “A1+” and “Noyan Tapan” TV channels were shut down, “Yerevan Times” newspaper editor in chief, Arman Babajanyan, was imprisoned for 3,5 years, GALA TV passed through the tax terror. In foreign policy, during Kocharyan´s government, Nagorno Karabakh was moved out from the negotiation process, and its right to self-determination became an Armenian-Azerbaijani territorial dispute.
Bloody end of the presidency
In 2008 presidential elections, the first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan´s nomination, as well as his posterior victory in the form of votes, became the most difficult task in Kocharyan´s presidency, and he used all the necessary measures for solving this problem. He had valid reasons for doing this, to avoid disclosure of crimes and maintain the enormous wealth accumulated. The Armenian society did not recognize the legitimacy of the presidential elections, raised a protest vote and stayed for some days in the Liberty Square.
On February 23rd, Kocharyan rushed to Moscow. At the informal summit of CIS heads, he held a meeting with the Russian president Vladimir Putin, and he certainly got the Kremlin´s “agreement” to stifle the mass uprising. Later, it was discovered that on February 23rd, on his return form Moscow, Kocharyan invited the heads of law enforcement units for a meeting, which gave as a result the constitutional order N 0038 of the Defense minister regarding the unconstitutional army involvement in the March 1st events.
On February 29, Kocharyan held a meeting with Yerevan State University faculty students and staff and presented four scenarios of the situation development, as well as two versions of government´s attitude, one of which he took advatage of the very next day…”using police actions, clean the square and give these people a chance to live a quiet life. I think today it will be of a great support to all those people who are confused and are emotionally unstable, because they are just kept there, in the square, by means of various tricks. Our options are less than expected: keep on waitig, or get bored, and put an end to all this. Of course, there is also one much more desirable option, wait until everything returns quietly to its course and so, there would be no need in using force. The police force is only applied to resistance, when the legal requirements are not fulfilled”.
In the morning of March 1st, Kocharyan “purged” the Freedom square of peaceful demonstrators, and later in the evening, in order to break up the rally of the thousands of people around the Myasnikyan statue, the ruling regime opened fire on their own people.
In relation to the situation in Yerevan, at midnigh March 1st, Kocharyan met with reporters. Ha stated that the situation in the capital required special treatment. “I, as a guarantor of the Constitution, have been obliged to adopt appropriate decisions”.
Kocharyan noted that the public order had been supposedly violated, the protestors exceeded all the acceptable and unacceptable limits, and shots were heard directed against the police. “These are exactly the weapons which were shown on TV; this is what we have been emphasizing during the last weeks”.
Then the president added: “I have signed an order about the state of emergency, and only did I sign it when I was reported about the eight wounded. The decree is aimed at the preservation of the constitutional order in the Republic of Armenia, and of course, first of all, our people, our nation´s security. Thus, I appeal to the people of Armenia, to act with restraint these days, understand the steps that the authorities are obliges to take, and respect the law. I would also appreciate help and support of every citizen in establishing order and discipline. This comes from the interest of the Republic of Armenia and its every citizen”.
Referring to the problems of the usage of illegal weapons, Kocharyan made a remarkable confession: “This case, when the weapon is being used against the police forces, which are not armed with firearms, implies that we have the obligation to implement the army, to re-establish the order. Until we learned of the injured, we restrained from such steps, but the weapon is being used, so we are obliged to ensure the safety of or citizens”.
On March 1st , Kocharyan signed a decree declaring a state of emergency. “As a guarantor of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, I will not allow anyone to undermine our state´s constitutional order.
To prevent an imminent danger to the constitutional order of the RA, guided by the Paragraph 14 of the Article 55 of the Constitution, I have consulted with the Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly, after which I signed a decree, proclaiming the state of emergency in the city of Yerevan, starting on March 1st, during 20 days.
The decree assumes the following emergency measures:
1) prohibition of meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and other mass actions;
2) prohibition of strikes and any other actions suspending business activities;
3) if necessary, inspection by law inforcement agents of the persons, and restriction of the passage of transport;
4) state and political issues declarations can only be carried out by mass media within the limits of official information;
5) prohibition of leaflet diffusion or any other political campaign implementation, without the permission of the relevant state bodies;
6) temporary suspension of political parties´and other social organizations´ activities, that impede the elimination of the circumstances for the basis for declaring a state of emergency;
7) expulsion of persons who violated the legal regime of the state of emergency, and who do not reside in the given territory, by their own means; in case of no means, expulsion by the means and resources available in the state budget of the Republic of Armenia, with the costs of further compensation provided.
I encourage everyone to restraint and prudence. This situation calls more than ever for unity, and for stricltly carrying out the requirements of the law. I can assure that the state of emergency will be lifted immediately after the circumstances for its bases are liquidated”.
On March 5, Kocharyan invited a regular press conference, where he noticed that the Human Rights Defender Armen Harutyunyan was his “most failed frame”. Kocharyan expressed this opinion after the latter had made a statement on the internal political situation. Kocharyan announced that the Ombudsman´s statement means that the latter “is not aware of the situation and does not know what he is saying”.
That day he also claimed that the organizers of the riots occurred last week in Yerevan should be punished, and revealed his tactic of blaming the opposition.
“Everybody should receive the punishment earned by his activities, which he deserves. And first and foremost, of course, the organizers should be punished, whose activities conducted to the fact that the rally could not be managed any more and turned into a crowd. No one in history could ever be able to rule a crowd. When you gather people, you should be responsible for them and for the consequences. There should be special attitude towards those people who have been using weapons and explosives. We know, more or less, the circles they could belong to”.
Kocharyan then confessed: “The country´s prestige has been seriously damaged. Let us just look back to assess what the country´s image was a month ago. In everyone´s opinion, the region´s most stable and rapidly developing country. And what we had in a blink of an eye? Frankly to say, I feel ashamed when I look at those videos. I cannot believe this is real to us. We all must have the courage and the ability to a very sober assessment of what happened, and of course, work together- to restore the reputation of the country, as well as the world´s attitude towards its people”.
Worried about the country´s “damaged rating”, presidential regime imprisoned Ter-Petrosyan´s teammates and dozens of citizens, Freedom Square is still under police “protection”.
Still, no one is punished for March 1st bloody crime, for the death of ten victims. The murderers, who opened fire against citizens of the Republic of Armenia, are still free.
Accumulation of wealth or state theft
Kocharyan obviously had serious reasons for keeping the power at all costs, despite all, and later, passing it to Serzh Sargsyan: during his presidency his family business thrived and he accumulated enormous wealth. In March 2010, Russian web-site “Versia” (Version) published a detailed list on this respect.
Let us recall the Kocharyans´ property list, according to the above mentioned web source: The Kocharyan family is the co-owner of the following banks: “Artsakhbank”, “Areximbank”, “Unibank”, “Haybusinessbank”, “Converse Bank”. “MAP” Company- here the Kocharyans´ share reaches 50 percent; “Zangezur Copper Company”- here the share is about 90 percent; “Ardshininvestbank”- here Kocharyan share is 50 percent; “Blue Sevan” holiday complex-the formal owner of this company is a man named Artak Voskanyan, Kocharyan´s managing director; “Nairi” medical centre-here the share is 50 percent; SAS chain of supermarkets – here the share is 50 percent, too, through the Deputy Prime Minister Armen Gevorgyan; “H2” TV company-the share is 50 percent through Armen Gevorgyan; “Star” chain of supermarkets-here Kocharyan´s son, Sedrak, holds 30 percent; “Noy” brandy-wine company, where Kocharyan holds 50 percent, and the rest´s owner is Gagik Tsarukyan; “Zvartnots” International Airport-here the share is of 50 percent; “Haypost” company-50 percent as well; cell phones import-in this market the Kocharyan family holds 80 percent.
It is well-known that Sedrak Kocharyan holds teh NOKIA phones sales monopoly, as well as a share of TOYOTA Armenia. “Golden Palace” hotel- here the Kocharyan family holds 83 percents; “Araratcement” factory- 33 percent. It is known that they also have a share form “GH-Telecom” ( “Vivacell” commercial brand”). “Version” also mentioned that kocahryan also co-owns a large shopping centre in Moscow, along with Samvel Karapetyan (nicknamed Kalugai Samo-Samo of Kaluga). He also has a casino, and also, as mentioned, a company called “Agroardyunaberutyun”. It was also mentioned that the Kocharyans import to Armenia such famous brands as Emporio Armani, Stefano Ricci and others.
The web-site also mentioned the fact of Kocharyans´ being shareholders of elite construction, assigning to Sedrak Kocharyan “Down Town”, “Bishin” constructing companies; the Kocharyans´ name was also mentioned in relation with “Renco Construction” company, which began experimenting the construction business in Armenia and built the “Congress” hotel.
By the way, let us note that this list only discloses the known facts, it is thus unknown and maybe, will be, for a long time, all of the wealth of the Kocharyan family.
P.S. This is a brief description of a devastation called Robert Kocharyan in Armenia, a man who seized the power twice, who committed the bloody crime of October 27 to approve his authority, who passed the power to Serzh Sargsyan, at the cost of March 1st slaughter and the blood of innocent victims.
“Zhamanak” Daily, 01.03.2011