By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A former world boxing champion, who unsuccessfully ran for Armenia’s parliament in May and is keen on contesting presidency in next year’s election, has urged Armenian authorities to have respect for his past sporting achievements and help him “trade” his medals for a candidate’s bond.
The Visa and Passport Department has provided Israel Hakobkokhian, 47, with evidence of his 10-year citizenship and permanent residence in Armenia required under Armenian law for a person to stand for president. However, also according to the law, the nonpartisan former boxer’s documents cannot be accepted by the Central Election Commission until he pays a sum of 8 million drams (about $26,500) as an election bond.
Hakobkokhian, who had successfully represented the Soviet Union in amateur boxing competitions throughout the 1980s, said potential buyers of his medals from world and European championships are interested only in their gold content. Now he plans to pawn his entire collection of medals “on bearable terms”.
Meeting with journalists on Thursday, Hakobkokhian read out his appeal to President Robert Kocharian, standing.
“Dear King of All Armenians Robert Kocharian. Please, assist me in pawning all my medals that I earned with my blood and sweat at the Central Bank, or any other bank,” he declared pompously. “Your assistance will be to ensure terms on which other states extend loans to our country.”
The would-be candidate said failing his election he was ready to repay the sum within a year.
Last May Hakobkokhian stood as an independent candidate in a Yerevan single-member constituency. Finishing a distant third in the race, Hakobkokhian refused to concede his defeat and went on a hunger strike, which he ended only after being visited by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.