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Kocharian To Again Visit Moscow


Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian attends his trial in Yerevan, February 2, 2021.

The judge presiding over the trial of Robert Kocharian has allowed the former Armenian president to visit Moscow for the second time in less than two months, it emerged on Tuesday.

A trial prosecutor, Gevorg Baghdasarian, revealed the permission and demanded an explanation from the judge, Anna Danibekian, during the latest court hearing on coup charges leveled against Kocharian and three other former officials.

“We don’t know the grounds on which Robert Kocharian is allowed to leave Armenia,” complained Baghdasarian. He said Danibekian should have consulted with the prosecution before making the decision communicated to the Armenian police.

“If you think that the court’s decision must be appealed you are not deprived of that possibility,” countered the judge.

Kocharian was allowed to be absent from the country from February 3-8. His spokesman Victor Soghomonian told the “Hraparak” newspaper that the ex-president will fly to Moscow to take part in a meeting of the board of directors of a major Russian corporation, AFK Sistema.

Kocharian has been a board member since 2009. He reportedly attended a board meeting during his previous trip to the Russian capital in mid-December.

The 66-year-old, who governed Armenia from 1998-2008, had not been able to attend any Sistema meetings since being first arrested in July 2018. He was most recently released from jail on bail in May 2020.

Sistema’s main shareholder, Vladimir Yevtushenkov, was reportedly one of four wealthy Russian businessmen who paid the bulk of the $4.1 million bail set by Armenia’s Court of Appeals.

Russia has criticized the criminal proceedings launched against Kocharian. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made a point of congratulating him on his birthday anniversaries and praising his legacy.

Some Kocharian loyalists claimed that Putin spoke with his former Armenian counterpart by phone during the latter’s December trip to Moscow. Kocharian’s office did not confirm that.

The ex-president, his former chief of staff Armen Gevorgian and Armenia’s two former top generals, Seyran Ohanian and Yuri Khachaturov, stand accused of overthrowing the “constitutional order” after a disputed presidential election held during the final weeks of Kocharian’s decade-long rule. The charges stem from a deadly post-election unrest in Yerevan. All four defendants reject them as politically motivated.

Speaking during Tuesday’s court hearing, Kocharian insisted that he is tried for his handling of a “political process.”

Kocharian has been at loggerheads with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government ever since it took office following the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2018. He has joined opposition groups in blaming Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh and demanding his resignation.

Kocharian said last week that that he and his political allies will participate in snap parliamentary elections even if they are held by Armenia’s current government. “We will participate and win,” he declared.

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