Kocharian Says Authorities’ Goal Was To ‘Lock Him Up’

Armenia -- Former President Robert Kocharian gives an interview to "Yerkir Media" TV, Yerevan, 16Oug,2018

Former Armenian President Robert Kocharian who faces charges of breaching the constitution has again accused the current authorities of carrying out a political persecution against him, claiming that the telephone conversations of two top security officials that were leaked to the media earlier this week provided more evidence of that.

In an interview with the “Yerevan. Today” website published on Wednesday Kocharian made it clear that he would speak only about the contents of the conversations between National Security Service (SIS) Director Artur Vanetsian and Special Investigation Service (SIS) head Sasun Khachatrian and would not address the fact of the appearance of the wiretapped audio online.

In the conversations, the authenticity of which was confirmed by both officials, Vanetsian and Khachatrian discussed the ongoing investigation into the 2008 postelection violence in which 10 people were killed.

Kocharian and several other former officials are accused of using the army to quell opposition protests, thus “overthrowing the constitutional order” of Armenia.

The conversations took place on July 27, hours before the court decided to arrest Kocharian. Based on the contents of the dialogues between the chiefs of the two security services who also refer to their consultations with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on certain circumstances of the case, Kocharian assumes that pressure was put on the court.

“All our predictions, all our statements that the case is politically motivated, that this is a case of political persecution are proved in this telephone conversation. [It proves that] this has nothing to do with the investigation of the March 1, 2008 events and has one goal, as they say themselves, to lock me up,” the ex-president said.

Kocharian further insisted that after such a scandal the chiefs of the NSS and the SIS should resign and offer their apologies for their “crime”, as, he argued, “it is obvious that there will be no trust in the prosecution conducted or overseen by these people.”

At their joint press conference on September 11 both Vanetsian and Khachatrian said they were ready to step down, but only if there were such a demand from the public.

They insisted that their conversations did not reveal anything that could be used to accuse them or Prime Minister Pashinian of guiding the judiciary.

Speaking in parliament today Pashinian, too, insisted that there was nothing about the conversations that could be used to compromise him or Armenia’s security services. He gave assurances that he remained committed to his earlier pledge not to interfere in the work of courts.

Earlier Pashinian strongly condemned the wiretapping of the country’s officials, describing it as “a conspiracy and a crime against Armenian statehood.” He ordered a probe to “identify the conspirators as soon as possible and hold them accountable in the strictest terms.”

In his interview today Kocharian also criticized Pashinian for his public statements. “The most surprising thing for me was Nikol Pashinian’s statement that he is responsible for all politically sensitive arrests. He made that statement at a rally. We are a member of the Council of Europe. This cannot but have consequences for the Republic of Armenia. This is a statement that even dictators do not do so straightforwardly. Now I should congratulate the people of Armenia that we’ve got a new dictator. Was this the goal of the revolution?” the ex-president concluded.