“The new Armenian authorities are afraid of what Robert Kocharyan intended to say,” said his representative after the press conference was cancelled
“Murderer!” and “He has no place in Armenia” screamed dozens of activists who arrived at former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan’s press conference on 14 August, the day after his release.
Kocharyan was remanded into custody on 28 July on charges of breaching constitutional order and his involvement in the deaths of ten people during the 2008 protests while president of Armenia. However, he was freed from custody after the Court of Appeals ruled that his remandment was illegal. Kocharyan’s lawyer Ruben Sahakyan told reporters that his release was based on a provision in the constitution which grants a former president immunity.
The activists were mainly students who participated in Armenia’s recent ‘velvet revolution’, as a result of which the country saw a peaceful change in power. They told journalists who were expecting the appearance of the former president that they intended to disrupt his press conference.
As a result, Robert Kocharyan’s security officers left the hall, and it soon became apparent that he had left the business centre where the appearance was scheduled
• What happened in Armenia in April 2018 and the main actors of the ‘velvet revolution’
Robert Kocharyan was the President of Armenia from 1998 to 2008. He was arrested in connection with the events that took place on 1 and 2 March, 2008: following the presidential elections on 18 February 2008, political bloc supporters headed by the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, demanded an investigation into the election results, claiming Levon Ter-Petrosyan won the election instead of Kocharyan. Thousands of protesters occupied the central square in Yerevan, taking part in round-the-clock demonstrations until 1 March.
On 1 March, military-grade weapons were used to disperse the crowds. Eight civilians and two police officers were killed in the process. Kocharyan was still president of the country at the time. According to data from the Central Electoral Commission, President Serzh Sargsyan was elected. However, he had not yet taken office.
Victor Soghomonyan, the head of the former president’s office, accused the new Armenian authorities of disrupting the press conference.
“As you have seen, the authorities are afraid of what Robert Kocharyan intended to say. That’s why they directed their activists to disrupt the conference,” Soghomonyan told reporters.
Robert Kocharyan previously said that he considers the case against him to be politically motivated.
Kocharyan’s representatives are expected to make a statement at a later time.