On July 3, 2018, the RA Special Investigation Service initiated a criminal case under Article 300.1 of the RA Criminal Code on charges of violent overthrow of the constitutional order of the Republic of Armenia by a group of people between February 23 and March 2, 2008. Within the framework of the same criminal case, charges were brought against former Minister of Defense Mikayel Harutyunyan. And yesterday charges were brought against former president Robert Kocharyan.
Responding to accusations in his address of violently overthrowing the constitutional order, Kocharyan said, “As president, I was the carrier of constitutional order, I was its guarantor, and I have oddly overthrown myself, and the army elite has participated in it. The encroachment on the constitutional order was done by the opposition itself.” Thus, Kocharyan claims that overthrowing the constitutional order means overthrowing the state.
Since February 20, 2008, massive public events, marches, and round-the-clock public rallies supporting the other presidential candidates were organized in Yerevan’s Liberty Square. On February 23, RA Defense Minister signed the top secret Decree N 0038 “On Execution of Tasks by RA Supreme Commander-in-Chief”, in which peaceful demonstrators were described as “political forces that do not accept results of the RA presidential elections and destabilize the situation”, and in order to ensure the “normal development of the country”, the entire staff of the RA Armed Forces was brought to the armed condition. According to the decree, collective units with high mobility and ability to function efficiently in complex situations were also formed from the Armed Forces, which were armed with firearms. It was assigned to include more trained, “psychologically stable servicemen” in those units.
In the evening of March 1, the Armed Forces and Police units carried out special measures by using weapons, explosives and special means to disperse the peaceful assembly and remove the demonstrators from the streets, as a result of which 10 people died.
Interpretation of the RA Investigative Committee
The Special Investigation Service (SIS) considers that with that order and the subsequent actions, officials in the Republic of Armenia violated the RA Constitution and in fact established a martial law, used the armed forces against citizens participating in peaceful rallies in order to solve political issues.
In particular, according to the SIS, officials violated Article 8.2 of the RA Constitution that was functional as of 2008, namely, “The armed forces of the Republic of Armenia shall ensure the security, defence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia as well as the inviolability of its borders. The armed forces shall maintain neutrality in political matters and shall be under civilian control.” According to the SIS, they also violated Article 13 (55), namely the President of the Republic shall in cases of armed attack against the Republic, imminent threat thereof or declaration of war declare martial law, and only after declaring martial law can a decision on the use of the armed forces be taken. Thus, the preliminary investigation body considers that officials violated the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and in fact established martial law, used the armed forces in political matters against citizens participating in peaceful rallies.
Moreover, according to the Special Investigation Service, officials carried out actions aimed at overthrowing the constitutional order of the Republic of Armenia which were expressed by actually lifting the norms set forth in Articles 1 to 5, and Part 1 of Article 6 of the Constitution by terminating them in the legal system during that period.
Thus, Robert Kocharyan is not accused of violently overthrowing the constitutional order by overthrowing himself (as he puts it). According to the SIS, the violent overthrow of the Constitution consisted in the violation of political neutrality of the Armed Forces, their use against peaceful protestors through which the norms set forth in Articles 1 to 5, and Part 1 of Article 6 of the RA Constitution (the constitutional order) were violated.