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Robert Kocharyan refuses to sit as MP in Armenia’s parliament

20 July 2021
Robert Kocharyan. Photo: Ani Avetisyan/OC Media.

Robert Kocharyan, leader of Armenia’s largest opposition coalition and the country’s second president, has announced that he will not sit as an MP in Armenia’s parliament. 

The leader of the Armenia Alliance wrote about his decision in a Facebook post on Monday, stressing that he had previously been a member of the parliaments of both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia but ‘by virtue’ of his character he has ‘always been a person of executive power’.

‘By this step, I also express my consent with my thousands of teammates, who conveyed to me the opinion that after the posts of the Presidents of Artsakh and Armenia, I should not be tempted by the mandate of MP’, Kocharyan said.

‘Finally, I was voted for as the bloc's candidate for prime minister’, he added.

In his statement, Kocharyan stressed that his decision not to take the mandate does not suggest that he is quitting the ‘struggle’ against Pashinyan and that he would continue to be the leader of the Armenia Alliance. 

Meanwhile, Kocharyan’s political allies, including elected and prospective MPs who remain in positions of power in Armenia, have been hit with a wave of forced resignations and arrests — largely connected with allegations of violations of Armenia’s electoral code during the snap elections. 

[Read more: Opposition officials hit by wave of resignations and arrests in Armenia]

Kocharyan’s Armenia alliance received 21% of the votes in June 20 elections, becoming the second-largest parliamentary force. Pashinyan’s ruling Civil Contract Party, on the other hand, won in a landslide, receiving 54% of the vote. 

Despite the reports of international observers, confirming that the elections were fair and free, Kocharyan’s party challenged the election in the Constitutional Court, which denied the motion and upheld the results.

[Read more: Armenian Constitutional Court dismisses appeals by Kocharyan upholding election results]

The second president

Robert Kocharyan was elected as a member of the Supreme Council of Soviet Armenia in 1989. In 1991 he became a member of the Supreme Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

From 1994 to 1997 he served as the first president of Nagorno-Karabakh, before leaving the post to serve as Armenia’s prime minister from 1997 to 1998, and Armenia’s president from 1998 to 2008. 

Robert Kocharyan left power after the 2008 election, where he was replaced by Serzh Sargsyan, his hand-picked successor. The opposition, then led by Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, organised a series of protests which were met with a harsh crackdown. As a result, 10 people were killed, and a number of opposition politicians, including Nikol Pashinyan — then a close ally of Ter-Petrosyan — were arrested. Thereafter, Pashinyan spent two years in prison for his role in organising the protests.

After the 2018 revolution, the Pashinyan administration initiated an investigation into the 2008 crackdown, and Robert Kocharyan was charged with ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’. Armenia’s Constitutional Court, largely staffed by appointees of the pre-revolutionary administration, dismissed the case.   

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