Armenia: After Ex-president Released, Premier Opens Conflict with Judges and Karabakh Leaders


Following the surprise release of former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan from jail last weekend, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused both his country’s judicial system and the de facto leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh of conspiring against him and his government.

On May 18, a court ordered Kocharyan to be released. He had been on trial for charges related to the violent breakup of March 2008 protests against fraudulent elections. Kocharyan, also a former de facto president of Nagorno-Karabakh, was released to the personal guarantee of two other leaders of the territory – one former, another current.

In response, Pashinyan – who has placed a high priority on Kocharyan’s prosecution – called on his supporters to surround court buildings and block people from entering and exiting.

Pashinyan has long accused the judiciary of taking orders from the former government. But the fact that he took dramatic action immediately after a judge issued a verdict which he opposed led many to accuse the prime minister of inappropriately politicizing the judicial system.

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