General without army

General without army

Samvel Babayan’s post-war life

17 years after the assassination attempt on then-President of the Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic, Arkady Ghukassian, on March 22, 2000, the Armenian law enforcers announced on March 22, 2017, that the NKR Defense Army former commander Samvel Babayan was arrested during the investigation of an attempt to smuggle in IGLA surface-to-air missile system.

PanARMENIAN.Net - PAN will tell about Babayan’s activity during and after the Artsakh liberation war, attempt on the president’s life, 4,5 years of imprisonment, pardon and 10-year absence.

Lt. General Babayan, was born in Stepanakert in 1965. He was one of the fierce fighters of the Artsakh liberation war, heading a detachment in 1992-1993. He also assisted in developing Shushi liberation strategy and participated in the operation itself. From November 1993 to December 1999, he served as the commander of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s Defense Army, who put his signature to the 1994 ceasefire agreement between Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia in Bishkek.

A friction between the NKR political and military leadership resulted in Babayan’s resignation in 1999. Three months later, on March 22, 2000, NKR President Ghukassian was injured in an assassination attempt. Law enforcement bodies named Babayan behind the attack.

On February 26, the former army commander was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was stripped of the Hero of Artsakh title and Golden Eagle medal. However, on September 17, 2004, Ghukassian signed an order to pardon Babayan, who spent 4,5 years in Shushi jail.

Upon release, Babayan moved to Armenia and formed Dashink party that cooperated with National Renaissance party headed by former Yerevan mayor Albert Bazeyan and Ramkavar Azatakan party. Babayan planned to unify the three parties to create a new political force. However, the plan was not realized. It was later reported that Babayan mortgaged his own house, as well as the apartments belonging to Bazeyan and a number of other officials in one of Armenian banks and disappeared with the money. Rumor had it that he fled to Moscow.

No one heard of Babayan till the spring of 2015, when news spread about his intention to join the Artsakh parliamentary election campaign by assisting the republic’s opposition National Renaissance party. However, the information didn’t prove true.

After the 2016 April war, Babayan finally showed up, explaining his stay in Russia by personal reasons. He declared that he returned to Armenia and is going to Artsakh. In Stepanakert, he was met by a rally of supporters. On the next day, opposition MP Hayk Khanumyan, who organized the welcome ceremony at the entrance to Stepanakert, was beaten.

When in Artsakh, Babayan gave a number of interviews, which were rated by some as defeatist. After that he disappeared again.

In 2017, he announced support to the Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanian bloc. After the armed incident in Jrarat village of Armavir province on March 14 that involved representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and the ORO, Babayan said “bloodshed might follow.” Some media outlets described this declaration as Sasna Tsrer-2 warning.

On March 22, the Armenian National Security Service announced about the frustrated attempt to smuggle man-portable IGLA surface-to-air missile system into the country and the arrest of 3 people, including Babayan, who, according to the investigators, negotiated the purchase and transportation of the system components.

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