Kocharyan in 2003
|2nd President of Armenia|
9 April 1998 - 9 April 2008
Acting: 4 February - 9 April 1998
|6th Prime Minister of Armenia|
20 March 1997 - 10 April 1998
|1st President of Nagorno-Karabakh|
29 December 1994 - 20 March 1997
|Garen Baburyan (Acting)|
|Leonard Petrosyan (Acting)|
|2nd Prime Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh|
August 1992 - 29 December 1994
|President||Georgy Petrosyan (Acting)|
Garen Baburyan (Acting)
|Born||31 August 1954|
Stepanakert, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union
(now Azerbaijan (de jure)
Republic of Artsakh (de facto))
|Alma mater||National Polytechnic University of Armenia|
Robert Kocharyan (Armenian: ? pronounced [bt kt?j?n]; born 31 August 1954) is an Armenian politician who served as the second President of Armenia between 1998 and 2008. He was previously President of Nagorno-Karabakh from 1994 to 1997 and Prime Minister of Armenia from 1997 to 1998. He was arrested on December 7, 2018.
During most of his presidency, between 2001 and 2007, Armenia's economy grew on average by 12% annually, largely due to the construction boom. His presidency witnessed two of the bloodiest events in post-independence Armenian history: the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting and the killing of ten people during the 2008 presidential election protests. He has been held responsible for both events by the opposition, especially by Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his party.
Both the 1998 and 2003 presidential elections were held in two rounds. They were disputed by the opposition candidates and criticized by international observers. Kocharyan and his family amassed a fortune and extensive business interests worth hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions during his time in office.
On July 26, 2018 the Special Investigative Service (SIS) of Armenia charged Kocharian with "overthrowing constitutional order of Armenia" during the final weeks of his rule. The SIS asked a Yerevan court to remand him in pre-trial custody. On July 27, 2018 he was arrested. On August 13, 2018 Kocharyan was freed from custody following a court ruling, but remained accused of the charges he was arrested for. On December 7, 2018 Kocharyan was arrested again following another ruling by the Court of Appeals. Armenia's Criminal Court of Appeal refused to release him from custody on February 7, 2019. Kocharyan's trial began on May 13, 2019. On May 18, 2019 Kocharyan was freed on bail from pre-trial detention. On June 25, 2019 he was arrested for the third time.
Robert Kocharyan was born in Stepanakert, NKAO, Azerbaijan SSR. He received his secondary education there and from 1972 to 1974 served in the Soviet Army. He and his wife, Bella Kocharyan, have three children: Sedrak, Gayane, and Levon; all of whom were born in Stepanakert. In addition to his native Armenian, Kocharyan speaks Russian and English.
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After his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrossian was ousted as President, Kocharyan was elected Armenia's second President on 30 March 1998, defeating his main rival, Karen Demirchyan, in an early presidential election marred by irregularities and violations by both sides as reported by international electoral observers. Complaints included that Kocharyan had not been an Armenian citizen for ten years as required by the constitution, even though it would have been impossible for him to be a 10-year citizen of a republic that was less than 7 years old; however, the Armenian constitution recognized the Armenian SSR as its predecessor state.
During his presidency, several opposition leaders in the Armenian Parliament and the Prime Minister of Armenia were killed by gunmen in an episode known as the 1999 Armenian parliament shooting. Kocharyan himself negotiated with the terrorists to release the MP hostages.
In 2001 Kocharyan was attending a jazz performance at Poplavok cafe in Yerevan, and was greeted by former classmate Poghos Poghosyan with the words "Hi Rob". The casualness of the greeting was taken as an insult, and Kocharyan's bodyguards took Poghosyan into the cafe toilet and killed him. The bodyguard, Aghamal Harutiunyan, received a one year suspended jail term for the killing.
The 2003 Armenian Presidential election was held on 19 February and 5 March 2003. No candidate received a majority in the first round of the election with the incumbent President Kocharyan winning slightly under 50% of the vote. Therefore, a second round was held and Kocharyan defeated Stepan Demirchyan with official results showed him winning just over 67% of the vote.
In both rounds, electoral observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe reported significant amounts of electoral fraud by Demirchyan's supporters and numerous supporters of Demirchyan were arrested before the second round took place. Demirchyan described the election as having been rigged and called on his supporters to rally against the results. Tens of thousands of Armenians protested in the days after the election against the results and called on President Kocharyan to step down. However Kocharyan was sworn in for a second term in early April and the constitutional court upheld the election, while recommending that a referendum be held within a year to confirm the election result. On April 14, 2004 Armenian poet Silva Kaputikyan wrote an open letter Kocharyan Must Go, where she protested Kocharyan's harsh methods towards the demonstrators on April 12-13, 2004. She also turned back Mesrop Mashtots Medal awarded by Kocharyan some years ago.
A presidential election was held in Armenia on 19 February 2008. The incumbent President Kocharyan, who was ineligible for a third consecutive term, backed the candidacy of Prime Minister of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.
Following the election result, protests organized by supporters of unsuccessful candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian began in Yerevan's Freedom Square and accompanied by mass disorders. On March 1, the demonstrators were dispersed by police and military forces. Ten people were killed during skirmishes between police and crowd, and President Kocharyan declared a 20-day state of emergency. This was followed by mass arrests and purges of prominent members of the opposition, as well as a de facto ban on any further anti-government protests.
As President, Kocharyan continued to negotiate a peaceful resolution with Azerbaijani Presidents Heydar Aliyev and Ilham Aliyev on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. In October 1999, Kocharyan became the first President of Armenia to visit Azerbaijan, holding talks with Aliyev at the border of the two countries. Talks between Ilham Aliyev and Kocharyan were held in September 2004 in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit. Reportedly, one of the suggestions put forward was the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the Azeri territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, and holding referendums (plebiscites) in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper regarding the future status of the region. On 10-11 February 2006, Kocharyan and Aliyev met in Rambouillet, France to discuss the fundamental principles of a settlement to the conflict, including the withdrawal of troops, formation of international peacekeeping troops, and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
During the weeks and days before the talks in France, OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen expressed cautious optimism that some form of an agreement was possible. French President Jacques Chirac met with both leaders separately and expressed hope that the talks would be fruitful. Contrary to the initial optimism, the Rambouillet talks did not produce any agreement, with key issues such as the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and whether Armenian troops would withdraw from Kalbajar still being contentious. The next session of the talks was held in March 2006 in Washington, D.C. Russian President, Vladimir Putin applied pressure to both parties to settle the disputes. Later in 2006 there was a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents in Minsk on 28 November and ministerial meetings were held in Moscow. "These talks did not initiate any progress, but I hope that the time for a solution will come" said Peter Semneby, EU envoy for the South Caucasus.
In September 2006, in his congratulatory message on the occasion of 15th anniversary of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Kocharyan said "The Karabakhi people made their historic choice, defended their national interests in the war that was forced upon them. Today, they are building a free and independent state." The accompanying message said that the duty of the Republic of Armenia and all Armenians is to contribute to the strengthening and development of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as to the international recognition of the republic's independence.
On July 26, 2018 the Special Investigative Service (SIS) of Armenia charged Kocharian with "overthrowing constitutional order of Armenia" during the final weeks of his rule. The SIS asked a Yerevan court to remand him in pre-trial custody. On July 27, 2018 he was arrested. On August 13, 2018 Kocharyan was freed from custody following a court ruling, but remained accused of the charges he was arrested for. On December 7, 2018 Kocharyan was arrested again following another ruling by the Court of Appeals. In 2019, all property of Robert Kocharyan, other than his pension, was arrested by the court. On May 18, 2019 Kocharyan was freed on bail from pre-trial detention. On June 25, 2019 he was arrested for the third time.
The opposition alliance described the parliament attack as "the darkest page in Armenian history" that laid the foundation of the country's existing "criminal-oligarchic" system. It again blamed Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian for the killings, claiming that most Armenians consider them the masterminds of the crime.
| Prime Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh
| President of Nagorno-Karabakh
| Prime Minister of Armenia
| President of Armenia