Will Sargsyan clan be accused of occupying Armenia?

Will Sargsyan clan be accused of occupying Armenia?

Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) has filed today charges of ‘usurping state power’ against former defense minister Mikael Harutyunyan as part of an  investigation into mass protests on March 1-2 in 2008 in Yerevan.

According to SIS, Harutyunyan and other top government officials breached several articles of the constitution, used army troops to disperse the protesters, which is a violation of Article 8.2 of the Constitution, which says that the armed forces of the country must maintain neutrality in political matters and of point 13 of Article 55 that says that only the president can declare a "military emergency" in case of an outside attack or the threat of one.

In a statement the Special Investigative Service said the February 19  presidential elections were conducted with gross vote rigging and other vote fraud which Armenian citizens regarded as violation of  the basic principles of the suffrage stipulated in Article 4 of the Constitution that was in force at the time, as a result of which the people were deprived of opportunities to exercise their power through free elections, ARKA reported.

According to SIS, then defense minister Mikael Harutyunyan signed on February 23, 2008, a secret order 0038 "On the fulfillment of the tasks set by the supreme commander of Armenia," in which peaceful demonstrators were described as "political forces that do not recognize the results of the presidential elections, destabilizing the situation." 

Harutyunyan was declared wanted and a local court was asked to allow his detention. The preliminary investigation into the case continues.

The deputy chairman of the Armenian National Congress, Levon Zurabyan, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, welcomed the beginning of practical steps to investigate and punish the perpetrators of the March 2008 riot case.

"What is published in the statement of the Investigative Service, completely coincides with the opinion of the Armenian National Congress, which we have repeatedly expressed since 2008. We made a statement three days ago about the need for a full investigation of the March events. We are fully satisfied with the progress of the investigation at the moment," Levon Zurabyan said.

At the same time, he noted that it is still unclear how far the investigation will go and whether the former president and former prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, who came to power as a result of overthrowing the constitutional system, will be brought to justice. "It is quite clear that Mikael Harutyunyan was not the only one who usurped the power, other people were also involved," the ANC deputy chairman stressed.

Ex-mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan noted that Harutyunyan was not yet the main organizer of the killing of people in March 2008. "He was the minister of defense, therefore, his status was not decisive in those events, although he certainly played his role, giving the command to the troops to disperse people. At that time, Robert Kocharyan was the commander-in-chief, Harutyunyan carried out his order. Robert Kocharyan was also called in for questioning," he said.

Vahagn Khachatryan stressed that the investigation has grounds for initiating criminal cases against the entire Armenian leadership of that time, including Serzh Sargsyan. "All persons who were in state positions back then will be summoned for questioning. I can say this with confidence as a representative of the Armenian National Congress and as a participant in the events of March 2008, when we, Levon Ter-Petrosyan's supporters, were in opposition. We have prepared documents which prove that all the Armenian leadership participated in the March 1 events," the ex-mayor of Yerevan concluded.

Robert Kocharyan completed his second term as Armenian president on February 2008. Kocharyan's Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan had Kocharyan's backing for his candidacy as the next president. The election was held on February 19, 2008 and Sargsyan won the election with 52% of the vote, with Ter-Petrosyan in second place with 22% of the vote. The protests initiated by Ter-Petrosyan's supporters began in the country on 20 February 20. On March 1-2, eight people were killed in overnight clashes between police and opposition protesters in Yerevan. One soldier was killed and 33 police officers injured in the clashes.