Nagorno-Karabakh’s Major-General Samvel Karapetian is ready to repeat what he said during his interrogation in court at the trial of former President Robert Kocharian, who is charged with overthrowing the constitutional order by involving the military in quelling post-election demonstrations in 2008.
After on August 7 the BBC Russian Service, citing materials of the Armenian investigation, named Karapetian as the general who led the 2008 March 1-2 suppression of opposition protests, in which 10 people were killed, the local Armlur news website published the documented transcript of the interrogation of the general also known as Oganovsky.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am), Karapetian confirmed the authenticity of the document published by the news website, saying that it was his signature under it.
“Nothing has changed. There is nothing else that I may have forgotten to mention and would add now… The information laid down there is the reality,” said Karapetian.
In his testimony the general says that on February 23, 2008 together with Colonel-General Movses Hakobian he participated in consultations held by then president Robert Kocharian and two hours later he was informed about an order to form a combined battalion from among different Nagorno-Karabakh detachments and send it to Yerevan. According to Karapetian, about 300 servicemen, including snipers, arrived in Yerevan and he had been appointed their commander.
“The combined battalion included officers and non-commissioned officers, all had come to Yerevan with their weapons, their full armament and combat weapons. The troops were in their usual uniform, but after arriving in Yerevan they tore their chevrons,” Karapetian said during the interrogation, adding that the troops were arriving in Karabakh Defense Army vehicles, but in Yerevan the license plates of the vehicles were changed to those of the Armenian Ministry of Defense. Karapetian said that he had learned from the Defense Army commander that the combined battalion would be subordinate to the then head of the Yerevan garrison, Yuri Khachaturov, who is currently accused in the ‘March 1’ case.
According to Karapetian, instructions to him were conveyed by an operative headquarters officer on duty, but he was not aware of where the headquarters was located, and met with Khachaturov only in the government building.
According to Karapetian, the troops stayed in the basement of the government building, guarding the building from the inside. Later, another 400 people were brought from Nagorno-Karabakh and they stayed at the base and guarded the building in shifts until mid-April 2008.
During the interrogation, the investigator tells Karapetian: “During the investigation data were obtained that in February 2008 you chose 60 troops, who were better trained and were psychologically more stable, from among those who arrived from Nagorno-Karabakh to Yerevan, explaining to them what actions were possible and saying that, if necessary, an order would be given to them to open fire at people. Twenty of the troops expressed their readiness and you housed them in the Presidential Palace. According to the data obtained in the case, Aram Sargsian nicknamed Hakim was appointed immediate commander of the 20-member group.” The investigator then gives other nicknames – Kandaz, Tsul Nverik, Spetsnazi Gago, who, according to the investigator, formed groups, were sent to the streets of Yerevan and shot at people.
In response to this question, Karapetian said that it was information that “did not correspond to the reality.”
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am), Karapetian said that he was ready to confront those who would say that during those days they saw him at Baghramyan Avenue 26, where the presidential administration was located. He said the interrogator was basing his question on someone’s testimony. He denied that there was any such order or any such people.
During the interrogation, Karapetian also said that the troops were provided with food and household items, but did not confirm the information that the matters were settled by tycoons Samvel Aleksanian and Gagik Tsarukian. He said that the food was provided through Grisha Sargsian, head of the State Protection Department of the National Security Service.
The Armlur news website, which published Karapetian’s interrogation protocol, had earlier published the protocol of the interrogation of former President Serzh Sarkisian and the Special Investigation Service (SIS) launched a criminal case against the media outlet for “revealing secrets of the preliminary investigation.” The SIS has not yet clarified what it will do with this release.
Major-General Karapetian held the post of Nagorno-Karabakh’s deputy defense minister until April 2019 when he resigned at his own request.