A senior ruling party lawmaker who led a parliamentary investigation into the deadly 2008 post-election events has spurned media speculation that in his remarks during parliamentary hearings last month he may have blamed ex-president Robert Kocharian for ordering the use of force against opposition protesters in the wake of a disputed presidential election 10 years ago.
On March 1-2, 2008, Kocharian, then the outgoing president, suppressed nonstop street protests held by tens of thousands of people who supported the claim of opposition leader and first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosian that the vote had been rigged in favor of his handpicked successor, Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) leader and then prime minister Serzh Sarkisian.
Ten people, including two police officers, were killed in the clashes followed by a continued crackdown on the opposition during and beyond a 20-day state of emergency imposed by Kocharian.
Samvel Nikoyan, of the HHK, who headed an ad hoc parliamentary committee set up shortly to probe the events, raised questions in his speech at the opposition-initiated parliamentary hearings on February 23 that media said implied blame on Kocharian for ordering the use of deadly force.
“We say, dear second president, while substantiating the introduction of a state of emergency you stated, in particular, that [during the standoff with security forces] opposition members popped up from behind buses and fired [at police officers]. None of the injured police officers who were examined by forensic doctors had gunshot wounds. A question arises, Mr. President: where did you get that information on the basis of which you made decisions that could prove fateful for the course of the events,” Nikoyan stated.
Speaking as a guest of Azatutyun TV’s Sunday Analytical Show aired on March 4 the HHK lawmaker, however, denied that his speech was directed against Kocharian, stressing that it was only construed as such by some media.
“This was concocted by the media. I said in front of everyone…: you [media] like to make conclusions, make up lies and then believe in those lies and make references to your own lies later,” Nikoyan charged.
He stressed that he only repeated the questions publicly addressed to Kocharian as well as Ter-Petrosian during the work of the committee years ago. “The official position of the ad hoc committee on the second president was the following: his actions were fully in conformity with the Constitution and laws,” Nikoyan stressed.
Neither Kocharian, nor Ter-Petrosian officially responded to the questions in the public domain. As Nikoyan explained during the parliamentary hearings, the ad hoc committee did not have the powers to officially interrogate the former officials.