RFE/RL Armenian Report – 06/11/2019

                                        Tuesday, 
Karabakh Security Chief Sacked After Row With Yerevan
• Naira Nalbandian
Armenia -- Retired General Vitaly Balasanian is pictured after negotiating with 
gunmen occupying a police station in Yerevan, July 23, 2016.
Vitaly Balasanian, one of Nagorno-Karabakh’s top security officials, was 
relieved of his duties on Tuesday one month after criticizing Armenian Prime 
Minister Nikol Pashinian and bitterly arguing with his press secretary.
Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, dismissed Balasanian as secretary of his 
national security council in a series of decrees that also named another 
retired army general, Levon Mnatsakanian, as chief of the Karabakh police.
Mnatsakanian is the former commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army. He was 
sacked in December after Pashinian accused Karabakh leaders of “meddling” in 
Armenian parliamentary elections.
Sahakian’s spokesman, Davit Babayan, insisted that Balasanian himself decided 
to resign because he wants to be “involved” in a presidential election which is 
due to be held in Karabakh next year. “He decided to enter the political scene 
and more actively participate in that electoral process,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s 
Armenian service.
Balasanian is expected to be one of the main candidates in that election. He 
had already been Sahakian’s main challenger in a presidential ballot held in 
2012.
Earlier this month, Balasanian publicly scoffed at Pashinian’s 
confidence-building understandings reached with Azerbaijani President Ilham 
Aliyev. He also criticized Armenian authorities for not heeding the current and 
former Karabakh leaders’ calls for the release of Armenia’s indicted former 
President Robert Kocharian from prison.
Those remarks sparked a war of words between Balasanian and Pashinian’s press 
secretary, Vladimir Karapetian. An Armenian newspaper report claimed on Monday 
that Pashinian has since been pressing Sahakian to sack his security chief.
The Armenian prime minister last week accused unnamed Karabakh leaders of 
spreading false claims about significant territorial concessions to Azerbaijan 
planned by his government.
Babayan denied, however, any connection between Pashinian’s statements and 
Balasanian’s dismissal. “Please do not link [the two things,] do not look for 
an intrigue,” said the Karabakh official.
Balasanian, 60, is a retired army general who had played a major role during 
the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan. He announced on May 30 that he has set up a 
“pan-Armenian” political movement called For Artsakh.
Constitutional Court Delays Decision On Kocharian’s Trial
• Astghik Bedevian
Armenia -- Hrair Tovmasian, the newly elected chairman of the Constitutional 
Court, speaks in the Armenian parliament, Yerevan, March 21, 2018.
Armenia’s Constitutional Court has delayed until July 9 a keenly anticipated 
decision on whether former President Robert Kocharian can stand trial on 
charges stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
Kocharian, his former chief of staff Armen Gevorgian and two retired army 
generals went on trial on May 13. A district court judge presiding over the 
trial suspended it a few days later, saying that the coup charges leveled 
against them may contradict the Armenian constitution.
The judge, Davit Grigorian, asked the Constitutional Court to pass judgment on 
a “suspicion of discrepancy” between three articles of the constitution and 
prosecutors’ claims that Kocharian illegally seized power in the wake of the 
February 2008 presidential election. Grigorian also suggested that the 
constitution gives Kocharian immunity from prosecution.
The Constitutional Court said shortly afterwards that it has already started a 
“preliminary” examination of the appeal. It was due to decide by June 20 
whether or not to open hearings on it.
It emerged on Tuesday that the high court decided late last week to extend that 
deadline to July 9. It cited the need for an “additional examination” of the 
issue.
Prosecutors have appealed against Grigorian’s controversial decisions to 
suspend the high-profile trial and release Kocharian from custody. Armenia’s 
Court of Appeals is scheduled to start hearings on the matter on Wednesday.
Kocharian’s release angered many political allies and supporters of Prime 
Minister Nikol Pashinian, who hold the ex-president responsible for the 2008 
bloodshed. At Pashinian’s urging, they blocked the entrances to court buildings 
across the country on May 20.
Kocharian and the other defendants deny the accusations.
Envoy Sees ‘Continuity’ In Russian-Armenian Ties
• Artak Khulian
Armenia- Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin at a news conference in 
Yerevan, .
The Russian ambassador in Yerevan praised the current state of Russia’s 
relationship with Armenia on Tuesday, saying that the two countries have 
remained strategic allies after last year’s Armenian “velvet revolution.”
“Our relations have maintained continuity in the year that has passed since the 
known domestic political events and changes in Armenia,” Sergey Kopyrkin told a 
news conference in Yerevan. “This is probably the most important thing. They 
steadily develop, remain on a high level and have a character of strategic 
alliance.”
Kopyrkin also pointed to an 11 percent rise in Russian-Armenian trade recorded 
in 2018. Echoing statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he stressed 
that his country remains Armenia’s leading trading partner and foreign investor.
Putin likewise praised bilateral ties when he met with Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian in Saint Petersburg on June 6. Pashinian described them as 
“strategic” in his opening remarks at the talks held on the sidelines of an 
international business forum.
“According to my information, the [Putin-Pashinian] meeting was constructive 
and productive,” said Kopyrkin. “Topical issues of our relations were 
discussed. The Armenian prime minister gave an assessment of the negotiations 
at a news conference in Saint Petersburg.”
“I understand that this contact laid yet another brick in the construction of a 
constructive and productive high-level dialogue between our countries,” added 
the diplomat.
Kopyrkin also praised the ongoing Armenian presidency of the Russian-led 
Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). He confirmed that Putin is planning to attend an 
EEU summit that will be held in Yerevan in October.
Pashinian had strongly criticized Armenia’s accession to the EEU before the 
2018 revolution that brought him to power. But he has repeatedly made clear 
over the past year that his country will remain part of the trade bloc as well 
as the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Pashinian told Putin in Saint 
Petersburg that Armenia’s “economic indicators are connected in large measure 
to our relations in the EEU and Armenian businesses’ access to the Russian 
market.”
Press Review
“Zhoghovurd” quotes Justice Minister Artak Zeynalian as saying that he decided 
to resign after “evaluating” media reports relating to him. The paper is 
dissatisfied with this ambiguous explanation. “If he meant criticism and 
discontent voiced by parliament deputies from the ruling My Step alliance, that 
should not have caused his resignation, assuming that he is really sure that he 
took right actions,” it says. “Instead of tendering his resignation, the 
minister should have convinced his partners and the public about his 
righteousness. But if there are other reasons [for the resignation] Zeynalian 
should talk about them openly.”
“Aravot” comments on Sunday’s mayoral election in Abovian which was won by the 
town’s incumbent Mayor Vahagn Gevorgian, opposed by My Step, and marked by a 
low voter turnout. The paper says that local residents who reelected Gevorgian 
preferred to keep the old “feudal” and “oligarchic” system of local government 
unchanged. It suggests that while the vast majority of Armenians ousted Serzh 
Sarkisian one year ago they did not necessarily reject “the system and the 
mentality formed over the decades.” They probably still think that only a 
benevolent “king” can solve their and their country’s problems, it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses claims by opposition commentators and media 
outlets that the outcome of the Abovian election was a serious setback for 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his allies and a huge success for Gagik 
Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). “Several years ago, Serzh Sarkisian 
would not even think that a candidate of his HHK could get 48 percent of the 
vote in Abovian,” writes the pro-government paper. It argues that Abovian and 
surrounding villages have long been a de facto fiefdom of Tsarukian.
(Lilit Harutiunian)
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2019 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
www.rferl.org

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RFE/RL Armenian Report – 06/11/2019

                                        Tuesday, 
Karabakh Security Chief Sacked After Row With Yerevan
• Naira Nalbandian
Armenia -- Retired General Vitaly Balasanian is pictured after negotiating with 
gunmen occupying a police station in Yerevan, July 23, 2016.
Vitaly Balasanian, one of Nagorno-Karabakh’s top security officials, was 
relieved of his duties on Tuesday one month after criticizing Armenian Prime 
Minister Nikol Pashinian and bitterly arguing with his press secretary.
Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, dismissed Balasanian as secretary of his 
national security council in a series of decrees that also named another 
retired army general, Levon Mnatsakanian, as chief of the Karabakh police.
Mnatsakanian is the former commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army. He was 
sacked in December after Pashinian accused Karabakh leaders of “meddling” in 
Armenian parliamentary elections.
Sahakian’s spokesman, Davit Babayan, insisted that Balasanian himself decided 
to resign because he wants to be “involved” in a presidential election which is 
due to be held in Karabakh next year. “He decided to enter the political scene 
and more actively participate in that electoral process,” Babayan told RFE/RL’s 
Armenian service.
Balasanian is expected to be one of the main candidates in that election. He 
had already been Sahakian’s main challenger in a presidential ballot held in 
2012.
Earlier this month, Balasanian publicly scoffed at Pashinian’s 
confidence-building understandings reached with Azerbaijani President Ilham 
Aliyev. He also criticized Armenian authorities for not heeding the current and 
former Karabakh leaders’ calls for the release of Armenia’s indicted former 
President Robert Kocharian from prison.
Those remarks sparked a war of words between Balasanian and Pashinian’s press 
secretary, Vladimir Karapetian. An Armenian newspaper report claimed on Monday 
that Pashinian has since been pressing Sahakian to sack his security chief.
The Armenian prime minister last week accused unnamed Karabakh leaders of 
spreading false claims about significant territorial concessions to Azerbaijan 
planned by his government.
Babayan denied, however, any connection between Pashinian’s statements and 
Balasanian’s dismissal. “Please do not link [the two things,] do not look for 
an intrigue,” said the Karabakh official.
Balasanian, 60, is a retired army general who had played a major role during 
the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan. He announced on May 30 that he has set up a 
“pan-Armenian” political movement called For Artsakh.
Constitutional Court Delays Decision On Kocharian’s Trial
• Astghik Bedevian
Armenia -- Hrair Tovmasian, the newly elected chairman of the Constitutional 
Court, speaks in the Armenian parliament, Yerevan, March 21, 2018.
Armenia’s Constitutional Court has delayed until July 9 a keenly anticipated 
decision on whether former President Robert Kocharian can stand trial on 
charges stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.
Kocharian, his former chief of staff Armen Gevorgian and two retired army 
generals went on trial on May 13. A district court judge presiding over the 
trial suspended it a few days later, saying that the coup charges leveled 
against them may contradict the Armenian constitution.
The judge, Davit Grigorian, asked the Constitutional Court to pass judgment on 
a “suspicion of discrepancy” between three articles of the constitution and 
prosecutors’ claims that Kocharian illegally seized power in the wake of the 
February 2008 presidential election. Grigorian also suggested that the 
constitution gives Kocharian immunity from prosecution.
The Constitutional Court said shortly afterwards that it has already started a 
“preliminary” examination of the appeal. It was due to decide by June 20 
whether or not to open hearings on it.
It emerged on Tuesday that the high court decided late last week to extend that 
deadline to July 9. It cited the need for an “additional examination” of the 
issue.
Prosecutors have appealed against Grigorian’s controversial decisions to 
suspend the high-profile trial and release Kocharian from custody. Armenia’s 
Court of Appeals is scheduled to start hearings on the matter on Wednesday.
Kocharian’s release angered many political allies and supporters of Prime 
Minister Nikol Pashinian, who hold the ex-president responsible for the 2008 
bloodshed. At Pashinian’s urging, they blocked the entrances to court buildings 
across the country on May 20.
Kocharian and the other defendants deny the accusations.
Envoy Sees ‘Continuity’ In Russian-Armenian Ties
• Artak Khulian
Armenia- Russian Ambassador to Armenia Sergey Kopyrkin at a news conference in 
Yerevan, .
The Russian ambassador in Yerevan praised the current state of Russia’s 
relationship with Armenia on Tuesday, saying that the two countries have 
remained strategic allies after last year’s Armenian “velvet revolution.”
“Our relations have maintained continuity in the year that has passed since the 
known domestic political events and changes in Armenia,” Sergey Kopyrkin told a 
news conference in Yerevan. “This is probably the most important thing. They 
steadily develop, remain on a high level and have a character of strategic 
alliance.”
Kopyrkin also pointed to an 11 percent rise in Russian-Armenian trade recorded 
in 2018. Echoing statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he stressed 
that his country remains Armenia’s leading trading partner and foreign investor.
Putin likewise praised bilateral ties when he met with Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian in Saint Petersburg on June 6. Pashinian described them as 
“strategic” in his opening remarks at the talks held on the sidelines of an 
international business forum.
“According to my information, the [Putin-Pashinian] meeting was constructive 
and productive,” said Kopyrkin. “Topical issues of our relations were 
discussed. The Armenian prime minister gave an assessment of the negotiations 
at a news conference in Saint Petersburg.”
“I understand that this contact laid yet another brick in the construction of a 
constructive and productive high-level dialogue between our countries,” added 
the diplomat.
Kopyrkin also praised the ongoing Armenian presidency of the Russian-led 
Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). He confirmed that Putin is planning to attend an 
EEU summit that will be held in Yerevan in October.
Pashinian had strongly criticized Armenia’s accession to the EEU before the 
2018 revolution that brought him to power. But he has repeatedly made clear 
over the past year that his country will remain part of the trade bloc as well 
as the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Pashinian told Putin in Saint 
Petersburg that Armenia’s “economic indicators are connected in large measure 
to our relations in the EEU and Armenian businesses’ access to the Russian 
market.”
Press Review
“Zhoghovurd” quotes Justice Minister Artak Zeynalian as saying that he decided 
to resign after “evaluating” media reports relating to him. The paper is 
dissatisfied with this ambiguous explanation. “If he meant criticism and 
discontent voiced by parliament deputies from the ruling My Step alliance, that 
should not have caused his resignation, assuming that he is really sure that he 
took right actions,” it says. “Instead of tendering his resignation, the 
minister should have convinced his partners and the public about his 
righteousness. But if there are other reasons [for the resignation] Zeynalian 
should talk about them openly.”
“Aravot” comments on Sunday’s mayoral election in Abovian which was won by the 
town’s incumbent Mayor Vahagn Gevorgian, opposed by My Step, and marked by a 
low voter turnout. The paper says that local residents who reelected Gevorgian 
preferred to keep the old “feudal” and “oligarchic” system of local government 
unchanged. It suggests that while the vast majority of Armenians ousted Serzh 
Sarkisian one year ago they did not necessarily reject “the system and the 
mentality formed over the decades.” They probably still think that only a 
benevolent “king” can solve their and their country’s problems, it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses claims by opposition commentators and media 
outlets that the outcome of the Abovian election was a serious setback for 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and his allies and a huge success for Gagik 
Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK). “Several years ago, Serzh Sarkisian 
would not even think that a candidate of his HHK could get 48 percent of the 
vote in Abovian,” writes the pro-government paper. It argues that Abovian and 
surrounding villages have long been a de facto fiefdom of Tsarukian.
(Lilit Harutiunian)
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2019 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
www.rferl.org

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