The office of Armenia’s former president Robert Kocharian considers opposition leader Nikol Pashinian to be the main “provocateur and organizer” of the 2008 post-election unrest, its head Viktor Soghomonian said in comments on Monday.
The reaction came one week after Pashinian, who leads the parliamentary faction of the opposition Yelk alliance, asked the country’s prosecutor-general to subpoena Kocharian for questioning over his ordering the use of lethal force to suppress protests held by the opposition in the wake of a disputed presidential election ten years ago.
Pashinian, an active participants of the protests who was later tried and convicted as one of the organizers of the unrest, in a video post on his Facebook account on March 5, in particular, said that Kocharian must explain where from he got the information about gunshots fired by opposition supporters at security forces, which was a key formal excuse for the authorities to quell the nonstop anti-government protests.
Pashinian’s application to the prosecutor-general came less than two weeks after a senior ruling party lawmaker who led a parliamentary investigation into the deadly events years ago repeated that same question once addressed to Kocharian during hearings in parliament on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the events.
Asked by Kocharian’s unofficial website, 2rd.am, about reasons for Pashinian’s initiative, Soghomonian said: “To be honest, Pashinian’s actions are of absolutely no interest to me. However, using this opportunity, I’d like to say that it is “thanks to” him that recently I witnessed the most cynical scene of our modern history: the main provocateur and organizer of the March 1, 2008 disturbances had organized hearings on the “March 1” case and sat in the chair of the National Assembly speaker, presiding over the meeting.”
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) later on Monday, Pashinian said that through his mouthpiece Kocharian is trying to “duck the issue”, while he only has to give a clear answer to a specific question regarding the information that he referred to before ordering the use of lethal force against opposition demonstrators.
“That’s the question that Robert Kocharian must answer regardless of everything,” the opposition leader underscored.
In the interview the head of Kocharian’s office was also asked whether the ex-president is going to attend the inauguration of Armen Sarkissian as Armenia’s next president.
Sarkissian was elected fourth president of Armenia by a parliamentary vote on March 2. The ceremony of his swearing-in as the country’s next, largely ceremonial president will take place on April 9, the day when current President Serzh Sarkisian’s second and final term expires. Under Armenia’s reformed Constitution, the top policymaking post in the country is reserved for prime minister, who is going to be elected later in April by a parliament dominated by the Sarkisian-led ruling Republican Party of Armenia.
To the question Soghomonian answered that Kocharian will not attend the ceremony, since “according to his schedule” during those days the former president will be abroad.