Two Trials of Two Former Presidents in a Day in Armenia

Two trials of two former presidents of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan (1998-2008) and Serzh Sargsyan, (2008-2018) were held in Armenia on Tuesday 25th of February. While Kocharyan is charged for overthrowing the constitutional order in 2008 by releasing an anti-constitutional top-secret order 0038, commanding the army leadership to bring the army units to the capital and then using them against the popular opposition movement lead by the 1st president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan (1991-1998), continues for over a year, Sargsyan is charged for corruption and his trial just started.

Former president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, who was widely unpopular and was forced to resign in 2018 April because of nationwide anti-government protests known as Velvet Revolution, is charged for corruption. The Prosecutor’s office says, Sargsyan “organized embezzlement by a group of officials” of 489 million drams (over $1 million) in government funds allocated in 2013 for the provision of subsidized diesel fuel to low-income farmers.

The investigation established that the former president interfered in a government tender for the fuel supplier to ensure that it is won by the company owned by his classmate and close friend Barsegh Barsegian.

The government paid 1.8 billion drams ($3.8 million) to the fuel supplier Flash company, as part of the government program to subsidize the fuel expenses of thousands of low-income farmers in Armenia, while another company Maxhur, which was suggesting a cheaper price for the same purposes, lost the tender. The price suggested by Maxhur would have allowed the government to save about half billion drams, but the government rejected the suggestion, giving preference to the company owned by the close friend of the president.

The incriminating pre-trial testimony was reportedly given by Sergo Karapetyan who served as minister of Agriculture at Sargsyan’s government (2010-2016).

Sargsyan was greeted by about 100 of his supporters and party members near the building of the court. Addressing the small crowd Sargsyan made a short pseudo-patriotic speech linking his charges with his position on Nagorno Karabakh conflict but didn’t say anything about the trial or accusations against him.

While his predecessor is imprisoned, Sargsyan is in freedom, pending trial without an opportunity to leave the country. His brothers and close relatives are also charged for corruption and illegal activities. During his rule 2008-2018, Sargsyan was widely criticized by Transparency International and other famous organizations for institutional corruption and financial manipulations. During his presidency, Armenian foreign debt increased from 1.9 to 7 billion US dollars. 

By Karen Tovmasyan 

26 February 2020 11:31