YEREVAN — Samvel Shahramanyan, the leader of Nagorno-Karabakh, testified in front of an Armenian parliament commission probing the 2020 war that met on Friday behind closed doors to hear Artsakh republic’s last president.
Andranik Kocharyan, the head of the commission, said that, among other things, during his three-hour-long testimony Shahramanyan also shed light on some of the events that followed Azerbaijan’s latest military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19-20 that led to the forced exodus of more than 100,000 Armenians, the region’s virtually entire Armenian population, to Armenia.
Shahramanyan, who was elected president by Nagorno-Karabakh’s parliament on September 9, only ten days before Azerbaijan’s offensive, signed a decree on September 28 disbanding the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” from January 1, 2024, which he later hinted was done under pressure from Azerbaijan to allow a safe escape for the Artsakh Armenian population to Armenia.
Kocharyan said that Shahramanyan was also asked about how he managed to safely reach Armenia on board a helicopter while Nagorno-Karabakh’s eight former and current officials, including three former presidents, were arrested by Azerbaijan and now face grave charges in Baku.
Among the questions were also those about the fuel depot explosion on September 25 as a result of which hundreds of people were killed and injured.
“Some realities were revealed to me that no one would have been entitled to receive information about on another platform,” said the head of the commission that is due to complete its investigation on December 3.
Kocharyan said that Shahramanyan’s testimony will be reflected in the final conclusions of the commission to be presented in a report due next year.
Kocharyan said that before completing its work the commission also expects to question one of Nagorno-Karabakh’s former military commanders who was in charge of the Hadrut unit. He said that former Secretary of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Security Council Samvel Babayan has himself expressed a desire to testify before the commission.
Kocharyan said that there was a legal obstacle to questioning Jalal Harutiunyan, who led the Nagorno-Karabakh defense army during most of the 2020 war, as he is now facing criminal charges as part of a war-related investigation.
Journalists did not have an opportunity to ask questions to Shahramanyan, who had entered the investigative commission room unnoticed and almost unnoticed left after the meeting ended.