The new court chairwoman, Lilit Tadevosian, was backed by 102 members of the 132-seat National Assembly, among them opposition parliamentarians. Her predecessor, Yervand Khundkarian, became a member of Armenia’s Constitutional Court in September.
Tadevosian was nominated for the vacant post by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), an independent body monitoring Armenian courts.
Tadevosian worked as a prosecutor before taking the bench in 2012. In 2016, then President Serzh Sarkisian appointed her as a Court of Cassation judge. She became the head of the court’s Criminal Chamber in 2018.
Tadevosian emphasized the importance of judicial independence when she addressed lawmakers before they voted in secret ballot to install her as court chairwoman.
“Independence and autonomy are inalienable characteristics of the judiciary to which all branches of government and all strata of the society must contribute,” she said.
Tadevosian was pressed by several pro-government lawmakers to comment on Armenian judges’ systematic refusal to allow the pre-trial arrests of opposition figures and other activists trying to topple Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government over its handling of the recent war with Azerbaijan. She pointedly declined to criticize those judges.
“If I don’t avoid, as you put it, answering your questions today I will have to avoid administering justice on those cases tomorrow,” explained Tadevosian. “That’s not what I am standing here for. Justice will not be administered here.”
Lilit Makunts, the parliamentary leader of Pashinian’s My Step bloc, hailed her stance.
Tadevosian also drew praise from Edmon Marukian, the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party, for not “commenting on political processes from the number one podium.”
Vladimir Vartanian, the chairman of the parliament committee on legal affairs, stressed the fact that Tadevosian will be the first woman to head an Armenian high court. “If we want revolutionary changes we must take this fact into account as well,” he said.