Hayk Alumyan, the lawyer of the second president Robert Kocharyan, made several controversial statements during a press conference today. Alumyan insisted that the Armed Forces had the right to participate in the March 1 events.
“One of the myths is that our legislation does not allow the use of the Armed Forces in domestic matters, such as preventing riots. The criminal case examined by the court is largely based on this myth. In fact, our legislation unambiguously allows for the use of the Armed Forces to solve the most important domestic issues when there are internal disturbances.” Alumyan said.
Fip.am has repeatedly addressed the issue of involving the Armed Forces in domestic political events and argued that the use of the Armed Forces violated the constitutional provisions.
Thus, Article 2 (2) of the 2005 Constitution states “The usurpation of power by any organization or individual constitutes a crime.” During the events of March 1, 2008, Robert Kocharyan actually exercised anti-constitutional control of the Armed Forces, engaging the Armed Forces in domestic political events and bringing it against peaceful demonstrators. Thus, with this administration of the Armed Forces, Robert Kocharyan violated Article 2 of the Constitution and usurped the Armed Forces management. Hence, he committed a crime stipulated by the Constitution.
It should also be noted that in its statement on July 3, 2018, the Special Investigation Service explains how the armed forces interfered with political events. According to the statement, “․․․On February 23, 2008, RA Defense Minister Michael Harutyunyan signed a top secret apparently illegal order N 0038 “On the tasks set by the RA Supreme Commander-in-Chief”, in which peaceful demonstrators were characterized as “political forces who do not accept the results of the presidential elections in Armenia and destabilize the situation”, and all the personnel of the Armenian Armed Forces were confined to the barracks in order to ensure “normal development of the country”. Officer groups were set up, and armed with service pistols…”
Hayk Alumyan cites Article 8.2 of the 2005 Constitution which refers to the Armed Forces. It is noteworthy, however, that he cites only the first part of the article in his presentation: “The armed forces of the Republic of Armenia shall ensure the security, defense, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia as well as the inviolability of its borders.” In this way, Alumyan wants to show that the Armed Forces fulfilled their legal obligations to ensure the security of the RA and so on. However, Kocharyan’s lawyer does not mention the second part of the provision: “The armed forces shall maintain neutrality in political matters and shall be under civilian control.”
Hayk Alumyan also addresses the involvement of the armed forces from Artsakh. “Apart from the RA Armed Forces, no other military participated in the event and was not involved in any part of Yerevan.” Alumyan stated, adding that during a closed-door trial their team was able to prove this allegation, and the prosecution accepted it, but that he cannot provide additional justification.
Although it is not yet known who fired on the demonstrators on March 1, 2008, and whether the armed forces from Artsakh took part in the March 1 operations, details of the case available in the Datalex information system contain information on the involvement of armed forces from Artsakh.
According to the case “In March 2008, a battalion of about 1,000 contract servicemen and officers of the Artsakh Republic Defense Army were moved to Yerevan. Some of the officers were stationed in the basement of the government building and the rest in the central headquarters of the Ministry of Defense. After being deployed in Yerevan, Artsakh Republic Defense Army servicemen were provided with the RA Ministry of Defense uniforms, while the “PB” [Defense Army] license plates of vehicles were replaced with “PN” [Ministry of Defense] plates to conceal the fact of illegal involvement of these forces.”
In addition, about 20 servicemen of the special forces of the Artsakh Republic National Security Service were stationed at Hrazdan Hotel in Yerevan.
It should be noted that a recent investigation by the BBC Russian Service has raised much controversy. According to the report, based on the investigation documents at their hand, investigators believe that the Karabakh security forces led by Commander General Samvel Karapetyan (Oganovsky) fired on demonstrators.
The investigation documents state that the above mentioned units, subordinated to the Yerevan garrison, were armed with different types of weapons and relevant ammunition.
Alumyan also asks if the demonstrators were not armed during the March 1 events, then where the ratio of 32 wounded demonstrators and 187 wounded policemen comes from. He also points out that this is evidence that the army did not come into direct contact with the demonstrators, as none of the wounded were military servicemen.
We tried to get a comment from the Special Investigation Service about the number of injured people and the figures provided by the defender. Marina Ohanjanyan, Press Officer, told us that this data was taken from the court case, which is not available to the general public, but the data was provided to the prosecution and defense parties. As for the accuracy, she only mentioned that if the figures are from a court case, they are probably correct.
Nevertheless, the Fact Investigation Platform will refrain from providing unambiguous information about the aforementioned figures. We will try to obtain factual evidence through inquiries and present it to the public only after we are convinced of its accuracy.