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Russian Ambassador Meets Kocharian


Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharians speaks during a Court of Appeals hearing in Yerevan, June 12, 2019.

Russia’s ambassador to Armenia met with Robert Kocharian on Thursday nearly one month after the former Armenian president facing corruption and coup charges was controversially released from prison pending the outcome of his trial.

According to a statement posted on Kocharian’s Facebook page, the meeting took place at Kocharian’s office located in a Yerevan hotel.

“The meeting was held in a tete-a-tete format and lasted for more than an hour,” said the statement. It did not give any other details.

The Russian Embassy in Yerevan confirmed the meeting on Friday. In a one-sentence statement, it said Ambassador Sergey Kopyrkin spoke to Kocharian “within the framework of his regular meetings with representatives of social-political and business circles” of Armenia.

Kocharian was first arrested in July last year on charges of illegally seizing power in the wake of the February 2008 presidential election held two months before he served out his second and final presidential term. The charges denied by him as politically motivated stem from the March 2008 breakup of opposition protests in Yerevan, which left eight protesters and two police servicemen dead.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denounced the prosecution of Kocharian as well as other former Armenian officials before the ex-president was set free in early August.

Russian President Putin telephoned Kocharian to congratulate him on his 64th birthday anniversary later in August. A spokesman for Putin said at the time that the two men “have been maintaining warm relations that are not influenced by any events taking place in Armenia.”

Kocharian, who ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, described the phone call as a show of “serious support” for him.

The ex-president was again arrested in early December. Three weeks later, he received New Year greetings from Putin.

Kocharian, his former chief of staff Armen Gevorgian and two retired generals went on trial on May 13. The judge presiding over the trial, Davit Grigorian, ordered Kocharian released from jail five days later. In a separate decision, Grigorian also suspended the trial, citing a possible contradiction between the Armenian constitution and coup charges.

Prosecutors appealed against both decisions strongly condemned by political allies and supporters of the current Armenian government. Armenia’s Court of Appeals began hearings on the matter on Wednesday.

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