Robert Kocharyan

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Robert Kocharyan
Ռոբերտ Քոչարյան
Robert Kocharyan's Interveiw, 2003.jpg
Kocharyan in 2003
2nd President of Armenia
In office
9 April 1998 – 9 April 2008
Acting: 4 February – 9 April 1998
Prime MinisterArmen Darbinyan
Vazgen Sargsyan
Aram Sargsyan
Andranik Margaryan
Serzh Sargsyan
Preceded byLevon Ter-Petrossian
Succeeded bySerzh Sargsyan
6th Prime Minister of Armenia
In office
20 March 1997 – 10 April 1998
PresidentLevon Ter-Petrossian
Preceded byArmen Sargsyan
Succeeded byArmen Darbinyan
1st President of Nagorno-Karabakh
In office
29 December 1994 – 20 March 1997
Prime MinisterLeonard Petrosyan
Preceded byGaren Baburyan [hy] (Acting)
Succeeded byLeonard Petrosyan (Acting)
2nd Prime Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh
In office
August 1992 – 29 December 1994
PresidentGeorgy Petrosyan (Acting)
Garen Baburyan (Acting)
Preceded byOleg Yesayan
Succeeded byLeonard Petrosyan
Personal details
Born (1954-08-31) 31 August 1954 (age 66)
Stepanakert, Azerbaijan SSR, Soviet Union
(now Azerbaijan)
Spouse(s)Bella Kocharyan
Alma materNational Polytechnic University of Armenia

Robert Sedraki Kocharyan (Armenian: Ռոբերտ Սեդրակի Քոչարյան pronounced [ɾɔbɛɾt kʰɔtʃʰɑɾjɑn]; 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.

During most of his presidency, between 2001 and 2007, Armenia's economy grew on average by 12% annually,[1] largely due to the construction boom.[2] 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.[2] He has been held responsible for both events by the opposition, especially by Armenia's first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan and his party.[3]

Both the 1998 and 2003 presidential elections were held in two rounds. They were disputed by the opposition candidates and criticized by international observers.

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.[4] 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.[5] On December 7, 2018 Kocharyan was arrested again following another ruling by the Court of Appeals.[6] Armenia's Criminal Court of Appeal refused to release him from custody on February 7, 2019.[7] Kocharyan's trial began on May 13, 2019.[8] On May 18, 2019 Kocharyan was freed on bail from pre-trial detention.[9] On June 25, 2019 he was arrested for the third time.[10] Kocharyan was released on $4 million bail in June 2020.[11]


Early life[edit]

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.


  • 1972–1974 – served in the Soviet Army
  • 1975–1976 – labour activities in different enterprises in Stepanakert and Moscow
  • 1977–1982 – electrical engineering faculty of Yerevan State Polytechnic Institute. Diploma with excellence.
  • 1980–1981 – worked as a mechanical engineer at the electrical engineering plant in Stepanakert
  • 1981–1985 – worked at different positions at Municipal committee in Stepanakert town committee of the Komsomol Union, including the post of assistant secretary
  • 1986 – instructor of town committee of Stepanakert Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • 1987–1989 – head of Karabakh Soviet party organization of the silk factory
  • 19 February 1988 – leader of the Artsakh movement, which called for secession from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic and for later union with Armenia; member of group Krunk; led the Miatsum organization
  • 1989–1995 – twice elected as a deputy of Supreme Council of Armenia, and member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet
  • 1991–1992 – deputy of the Supreme Union of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in its first convocation
  • 1992–1994 – second prime minister of Nagorno-Karabakh
  • 1994–1997 – first president of Nagorno-Karabakh
  • 1997–1998 – sixth prime minister of Armenia


Kocharyan in December 2001

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,[12] 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.[13] The bodyguard, Aghamal Harutiunyan, received a one-year suspended jail term for the killing.[14]

2003 election[edit]

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.

Kocharyan's approval rating in IRI polls
Date Favorable Unfavorable
Nov 2006 33% 66%
Mar 2007 40% 51%
Jul 2007 42% 52%
Sep 2007 42% 52%
Oct 2007 49% 46%
Dec 2007 53% 42%
Jan 2008 48% 48%

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.[15] Demirchyan described the election as having been rigged and called on his supporters to rally against the results.[16] Tens of thousands of Armenians protested in the days after the election against the results and called on President Kocharyan to step down.[15] 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.[17][18] 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.[19]

2008 election[edit]

A presidential election was held in Armenia on 19 February 2008. The incumbent President Kocharyan, who was ineligible for a third consecutive term,[20] backed the candidacy of Prime Minister of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23][24]

Foreign policy[edit]

Kocharyan with Russian President Vladimir Putin, March 2002

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.[25] In his memoirs, Kocharyan later claimed that Aliyev stood ready in his discussions to recognize Karabakh as a part of Armenia.[26] 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.[27]

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.[27] Russian President, Vladimir Putin applied pressure to both parties to settle the disputes.[28] 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.[29]

In September 2006, in his congratulatory message[30] 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.[31]



Protest against order of the Court of general jurisdiction of Yerevan to free Robert Kocharyan on bail from pre-trial detention. May 18, 2019, Yerevan.

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.[32] 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.[33] On December 7, 2018, Kocharyan was arrested again following another ruling by the Court of Appeals.[34] In 2019, all property of Robert Kocharyan, other than his pension, was arrested by the court.[35] On May 18, 2019, Kocharyan was freed on bail from pre-trial detention.[9] On June 25, 2019, he was arrested for the third time.[10] He was again released a year later, on June 18, 2020, on bail.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Robert Kocharyan with his family

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.[36] In his memoirs that were published in 2020, he admitted to having a poor command of standard Armenian, saying that he "had difficulties with writing and reading in Armenian". He attributes this to his homeland of Karabakh, which generally used the local Karabakh dialect as the primary form of the language.[26]


  1. ^ "Country Information". United Nations in Armenia. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Abrahamyan, Gayane (20 November 2012). "Rotating Around Presidents: Kocharyan's "shadow" a curse or a blessing for Armenia?". ArmeniaNow. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
  3. ^ Martirosian, Anush; Meloyan, Ruben (28 October 2009). "Armenia Marks Parliament Attack Anniversary". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 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.
  4. ^ "Kocharian Charged Over 2008 Crackdown". «Ազատ Եվրոպա/Ազատություն» ռադիոկայան (in Armenian). Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  5. ^ "Armenia's ex-president Kocharyan freed from custody: lawyer". Reuters. 2018-08-13. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  6. ^ "Armenian ex-president Kocharyan detained after court ruling - lawyer". Reuters. 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  7. ^ "Armenia 2nd President's attorney: Robert Kocharyan is political prisoner". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b "Former Armenian Leader Freed From Pretrial Detention". Voice of America. 18 May 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Armenian court orders arrest of ex-president Kocharyan: RIA". Reuters. 25 June 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Armenia releases former president Kocharyan on $4 million bail". Reuters. 18 June 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2020.
  12. ^ Staff (4 February 1998) "Armenian president resigns" BBC World Service
  13. ^ Barsoumian, Nanore (2012-01-27). "To Maim and Kill with Impunity". The Armenian Weekly. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  14. ^ "Kocharian Bodyguard Gets Suspended Sentence". 2002-02-21. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  15. ^ a b Stern, David (2003-03-07). "Anger at 'flawed' poll in Armenia". Financial Times. p. 4.
  16. ^ "Incumbent 'wins' Armenia vote". BBC Online. 2003-03-06. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  17. ^ "Armenia: President Sworn In Amid Protests". The New York Times. 2003-04-10. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  18. ^ "Constitutional court stirs Armenian political controversy". 2003-04-23. Retrieved 2009-05-23.
  19. ^ Kocharyan Must Go by S. Kaputikyan//Shrjadardz Armenian Magazine, #2, 2004, p. 21
  20. ^ The Constitution of the Republic of Armenia (27 November 2005), Chapter 3: The President of the Republic, Article 50 Archived 15 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Robert Kocharyan To Support Serzh Sargsyan,
  22. ^ "State of emergency declared in Armenia". RTÉ News. 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
  23. ^ "Armenia: Police Beat Peaceful Protesters in Yerevan", Human Rights Watch (NY), March 2, 2008.
  24. ^ Ter-Petrosian ‘Under House Arrest,’ Rally Broken Up Archived 2008-11-23 at the Wayback Machine, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 1, 2008.
  25. ^первый-визит-президента-армении-в-азе/
  26. ^ a b "From behind bars, Armenia's former president releases memoir | Eurasianet". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  27. ^ a b Ghazinyan, Aris (10 February 2006) "Drawing the Line: Maps meet principles in the search for a settlement over Nagorno Karabakh" Armenia Now
  28. ^ Staff (23 February 2006) "Putin Going to Invite Kocharyan to Moscow to Discuss Karabakh Issue" YERKIR Armenian Online Newspaper Archived 6 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Staff (21 February 2007) "Peter Semneby: EU tries to create trust between Karabakh and Azerbaijan" More than 4 bln dollars were stolen by his clan in Armenia YERKIR Armenian Online Newspaper
  30. ^ (1 September 2006) "Congratulations on Independence Day" Azat Artsakh Newspaper Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Staff (1 September 2006) "Robert Kocharyan: Nagorno Karabakh People Made Their Historical Choice, Protected Its National Interests in the Forced War. Today They Built Free and Independent State" ARMINFO News Agency
  32. ^ [2]
  33. ^ [3]
  34. ^
  35. ^ "В Армении арестовали все имущество экс-президента Кочаряна, кроме пенсии". Interfax (in Russian). 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  36. ^ 2001 թվականի հունվարի 25-ը Հայաստանը դարձավ Եվրոպայի Խորհրդի անդամ, retrieved 2020-05-24

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Oleg Yesayan
Prime Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh
Succeeded by
Leonard Petrosyan
Preceded by
Garen Baburyan
President of Nagorno-Karabakh
Succeeded by
Leonard Petrosyan
Preceded by
Armen Sargsyan
Prime Minister of Armenia
Succeeded by
Armen Darbinyan
Preceded by
Levon Ter-Petrosyan
President of Armenia
Succeeded by
Serzh Sargsyan