By Grigor Atanesian
Former president Robert Kocharyan, widely despised in Armenia and currently being held in a Yerevan jail, has released a memoir in which he takes shots at his current nemesis, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, and praises his one-time Azerbaijani counterpart Heydar Aliyev.
Kocharyan left office in 2008 and largely dropped out of public view. But since the coming to power last year of Nikol Pashinyan, Kocharyan has reemerged as the bête noire of the new government. He was arrested on charges related to the violent breakup of protests in 2008 over the election of his successor, Serzh Sargsyan; as such he is the first post-Soviet leader ever to face trial.
Now, with the new autobiography, Kocharyan has yet again managed to insert himself into Armenia’s public conversation.
The book, Life and Freedom: Autobiography of the Ex-President of Armenia and Karabakh, was written in Russian and published in Moscow. Kocharyan has said he began the book before last year’s “Velvet Revolution,” but that he finished it while in jail.
As with most politicians’ memoirs, it offers a heavily subjective view of his life in politics, from the late 1980s — when he first gained prominence as one of the leaders of the Karabakh Armenians’ independence movement — until 2008. Self-aggrandizing even by the standards of the genre, the book portrays Kocharyan as an apolitical leader, a talented manager who never sought power but was always invited and cajoled, able to manage any crisis and to discipline and rebuild a government and a nation.