YEREVAN, September 5. /ARKA/. US Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills was asked today by Armenian journalists to comment on a statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the situation in Armenia “continues to boil.” Mills was asked whether it was in interference into Armenia’s internal affairs.
Lavrov said September 3 that Russia was worried that the situation in Armenia was still ‘boiling’. Earlier top Russian officials made it clear that Moscow was concerned over the new Armenian government’s latest move, including prosecution of former president Robert Kocharyan and a former deputy defense minister Yuri Khachaturov, the current secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization.
Mills said today that he was aware of such assessments and comments, adding that the Armenian government should respond to them, saying also that the position of the US has not changed. In his words, the events of March 1, 2008 should be investigated in detail and objectively. He said it is important that the investigation is guided by the rule of law and be within the framework of due legal processes.
Kocharyan was arrested on July 27 for two months by a local court, but was released from pre-trial custody on August 13. He is accused of violating Armenia constitutional order in March 2008, when in a post-election standoff eight civilians and two police officers were killed. The polls were declared to have been won by then prime minister Serzh Sargsyan.
The decision angered the opposition, led by the first Armenian president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who set off 10 days of nonstop protests that led to the crackdown on March 1, in which 10 people were killed and more than 200 injured.
Kocharyan was released from custody after Armenia’s Court of Appeals ruled that he could not be prosecuted for the post-election violence. The ruling was backed by Article 140 of the Armenian Constitution, which says that during the term of his or her powers and thereafter, the President of the Republic may not be prosecuted and subjected to liability for actions deriving from his or her status.
The ruling of the Court of Appeals was denounced by the Special Investigative Service, which described it as illegal, saying that the Court of Appeals “overstepped the bounds of its authority.” It later appealed the decision at the Court of Cassation. -0-