Armenia’s second president, Robert Kocharyan, stated he is going to run in Armenia’s upcoming snap parliamentary elections. Kocharyan is currently standing trial for ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’ in 2008.
On January 27, Kocharyan gave an interview to three local media outlets, evaluating the causes and consequences of the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh and outlining what he saw to be his future in Armenian politics.
‘In the future processes, if there are elections, depending on the format, we have all the mechanisms necessary for political competition,’ Kocharyan said adding that he and his team will definitely participate in the elections whenever they happen.
‘Otherwise’, he said. ‘We will give these people [the ruling coalition] an opportunity to re-establish their power’.
Kocharyan said he would prefer that an interim government be established before elections are held — as the country’s opposition is currently demanding — but even if that does not happen, he said that he would not ‘leave them [the ruling party] alone with the public’.
‘That is why, yes, we will run, we will fight, and we will win’, he concluded.
In addition to the incumbent, Nikol Pashinyan, there are three major political figures in Armenia gunning for the country’s top spot. Edmon Marukyan, a former ally of Pashinyan and leader of the Bright Armenia party; Armenia’s first post-soviet Prime Minister, Vazgen Manukyan; and Robert Kocharyan.
‘Overthrowing the constitutional order’
Robert Kocharyan is currently on trial in Yerevan, charged with ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’ for his role in a deadly post-election protest crackdown in March 2008 that left 10 dead. He served as Armenia’s president from 1998 to 2008.
The criminal case was opened against Kocharyan in July 2018, after his successor, Serzh Sargsyan was deposed by mass protests. A month later, he announced that he would participate in the first post-revolutionary parliamentary elections that December — he withdrew his candidacy two months before the election.
Due to the outbreak of war, Kocharyan’s trial was suspended in late September and resumed in January 2021. During the war, Robert Kocharyan visited Nagorno-Karabakh and held several meetings with former high-ranking officials from both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
In late October it was reported that Kocharyan as well as the country’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, were planning to visit Moscow to hold diplomatic discussions. The pair did not travel to Russia, however, as Kocharyan tested positive for COVID-19 immediately before the trip. According to Pashinyan, the ex-presidents’ plans were cancelled because he refused to grant them the status of official state envoys.