“Channel 5” (former “Ararat”) TV Company has recently broadcast a documentary titled “The Case of March 1”. The authors of the film are Roman Babayan and Anton Grishin. In authors of the film, attempt to present the tragic events of March 1, 2008, in another light. The film contains a number of key errors and misleading episodes. The Fact Investigation Platform team of the “Union of Informed Citizens’” decided to refer to the mentioned episodes below.
The resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosyan
At the very beginning of the film, speaking of the events of 1997-1998, and the resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the authors make the following statement:” …the cause of the split was Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s position on the Nagorno Karabakh issue. At the press conference on September 26, 1997, he announced that he considers possible the so-called compromise solution to the Karabakh issue. It meant negotiations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and almost a resignation from the demand of Karabakh’s independence or its unification with Armenia. The reaction was momentous and tough. The Prime Minister of Armenia Robert Kocharyan, the Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and the Minister of Internal Affairs Serzh Sargsyan accused him of conspiracy and betrayal.
If we leave aside the falsehood of the first part of these claims, unification of Karabakh with Armenia, Turkey’s involvement in negotiation processes, etc., then in the second part there is an obvious fraud. None of the above-mentioned people blamed Ter-Petrosyan for conspiracy or betrayal in an interview or in a public text.
The sociology fraud
The authors present the polls made by “Gallup” organization, according to which Ter-Petrosyan was not in the top five of the possible candidates. Tigran Karapetyan took the last place with the result of 5 %. This is a misleading fact itself. Even the official results of the 2008 elections showed that the sociological polls conducted had nothing to do with the reality. Moreover, 60% of respondents refused to answer.
Kocharyan was watching from aside
In another episode, the authors have tried to “derogate” Kocharyan’s role in the 2008 events. “The Acting President Robert Kocharyan did not have the right to be re-elected. His second term of office was about to be over. He had only one month left to give the post to the winner candidate. That is why at the beginning he was watching the whole process from aside.”
Not once Kocharian announced his support for the presidential candidate, Serzh Sargsyan. Moreover, in his interviews he also referred to Ter-Petrosyan, who had returned to politics, which already implies direct participation in the processes. According to his position as a president, he could not follow the processes from aside.
Answering the question “Are you a rich man?” Kocharyan insists: “In Armenia, at least two hundred, if not more, families have the same opportunities as my family.” The Armenian and Russian media, however, have repeatedly touched upon Robert Kocharyan’s and his family’s property, which crosses a few billion dollars. These claims have not been refuted; moreover, no family in Armenia is registered as a dollar billionaire.
“But the most interesting thing started on the Election Day, February 19, 2008. The election districts still open, Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s team began to hold protests.”
There were no protests on February 19, 2008. The rallies began on February 20.
Presenting the role of the army in the events of 2008, the authors of the film are trying to justify the view that army troops would be included by the protesters, and Kocharyan succeeded in stopping the military coup.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Ter-Petrosyan, referring to the Deputy Ministers of Defense, states: “… those two hold negotiations on behalf of the people, and the commander of the army’s General Staff, Colonel-General Seyran Ohanyan, on behalf of the authorities. The meaning of the negotiations is as follows: the command of the army, Manvel Grigoryan and Gagik Melkonyan, declare that Manvel Grigoryan, Gagik Melkonyan, as the Deputy Ministers of the Army, stand by their people, and will defend the candidate who has won the trust of the people. They will not allow the army to interfere in politics and act against its own people (21.02.2008)”.
Later the army became involved in these processes by the well-known order 0038 and was used by the authorities, which was a gross violation of the Constitution.
“According to the police, tents contain large amounts of iron bars, grenades and firearms.”
As we know, this statement of the police was not substantiated in any way as a result of the investigative actions of the previous authorities.
“March 1. Morning. Police forces have been sent to the Liberty Square. The police starts the inspection of the area and the tents.”
Even if this was a police search, no document was presented to confirm it.
The actions that did not have legal grounds started at 6:40 a.m., earlier than provided in the RA legislation.
Speaking about the events of the morning of March 1, the authors note: “The witnesses said the protesters were armed with clubs and iron bars, which is very well seen in the video footage.”
Before the afternoon clashes, the demonstrators had no protective measures. In order to justify their claim, the film makers show night shots of March 1 to March 2, which is nothing but a distortion of reality.
“Opposition leaders gather people at the French Embassy.” As proof of this idea, the authors use the wiretapping of Nikol Pashinyan’s and Alexander Arzumanyan’s conversation.
However, wiretapping makes it clear that the rally is spontaneous and the opposition leaders have not directed demonstrators to gather in the mentioned place.
“All the arrangements change and he (Nikol Pashinyan) announces that they have absolutely different instructions from Ter-Petrosyan. We need to barricade ourselves; we need to resist the authorities, etc.” R. Kocharyan.
Nikol Pashinyan did not make this statement.
“It is a fact, I have seen them, and I was hitting them. As if it was not enough that they broke the showcases of those stores, they stole and dragged everything from there, marauders. They began breaking sets of brandy, I would say, they broke more than two hundred bottles of sorted brandy. It was a riff-raff gang.” D. Shahnazaryan.
Perhaps the authors of the film have edited this part of Shahnazaryan’s speech. The reality is as follows: store lootings took place far away from the demonstration site. No criminal case for robbery or looting has been initiated against a demonstrator going through the case of the March 1.
Later on, it became clear from the press and from the materials of the fact-finding group that, the trustees of Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) were involved in the lootings.
The unstolen weapon
“When they burnt a police car and beat up police officers, they stole their weapons, the registered weapons of those police officers…” R. Kocharyan
The film’s authors, when speaking of snipers, questioned the fact that the mentioned forces were acting by the order of the authorities. Moreover, they are trying to bring up the involvement of a “third force” in this story. Samvel Nikoyan, who was a member of the fact-finding group and a member of the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), stated even then that a sniper was used among the police force.
“In the evening, I signed a decree to introduce a state of emergency. I signed it when there were already several dozens of wounded policemen.” R. Kocharyan:
At 10:15pm, Kocharyan invites a press conference and declares that there are wounded police officers and shops are being robbed. The robbery of stores starts, however, half an hour after Kocharyan’s announcement, while the reports about dozens of injured police officers come up later.
A few remarks
The film contains many other errors and misleading trickeries. There is no mention about the 0038 secret decree that had been given before the official results of the election.
The authors selectively evaluate the results of the observation missions and present them separate from a real context. They do the same with the infamous publications of the WikiLeaks. It has been proven long ago that the army was used in domestic politics, but the authors bypass this section too.
In many episodes, it is mentioned that the demonstrators were armed, however there has been no criminal case proving that the protesters had or used illegal arms.
We would like to note once again as a reminder that the “The Fifth Channel” is former Ararat TV Company, now belonging to one of Robert Kocharyan’s close associates Armen Tavadyan.
When talking to different speakers, the creators of the film said that they were making a film devoted to the victims of March 1. Later, however, they have edited the speakers’ words and presented them according to their discretion.