What is your estimation of Kocharian's speech about Armen Harutiunian?
I don't want to make an estimation. You make an estimation. Robert Kocharian has this type of personality. Here is a man [Harutiunian], who's working, who has a responsibility; when he tells [Kocharian] something unpleasant, the next day he might disappear. Jahangirian made an announcement, and they relieved him of his work a minute later, and on the following day they detained him. Ten diplomats made announcements and they were immediately fired; if that weren't enough, they even prevented them, in violation of the Constitution, from speaking out. Had Armen Harutiunian not made such an announcement, he could have worked for a full hundred years. Larissa Alaverdian said a couple of things before that--and that was that. Now if you say something tomorrow, it will be the end of the matter for you, too. Kocharian demonstrates on a daily basis that which I have been trying to demonstrate for five months.
What do you think is the solution to this state of affairs?
When it becomes possible, we will have our assembly, and we will speak with the people.
So, today, you see only general gatherings as the solution?
Go ahead and suggest other means. I said: through the newspapers, through general gatherings; if they allow us on television, through television. I've said that, too, once. I told the mediators: "If you don't want a popular assembly, please, give me the means to speak to the people for half-an-hour a day; that is better for me. Not every day, even--Let me speak an hour-and-a-half with the people each week through a direct (?) broadcast. What do you want? You say that you don't want masses to gather; fine, neither do I; the people don't deserve it; I will speak to them at home." I've said so.
The government is trying to make announcements through various officials saying that you are the one responsible for the events of March 1st.
One would think that they can accuse me. Through accusations, they wiped-out 20 million people in Siberia. But neither I, nor the entirety of this movement, have any responsibility for these clashes and incidences of violence. That is the most elementary thing: they will, of course, try to ascribe [the violence] to us. It will work out; we aren't afraid of that, either. I have said that no one can accuse me of having violated any law. For five months [no laws] were broken at all. Yes, after February 21st we had unannounced general gatherings. If this merits punishment, then I am ready to bear that punishment. Do you know what the punishment for that is? A $300-400 fine. Gorbachov fined me twice in '88.
Mr. President, did you forsee the course of events before the beginning of the general gatherings?
No, I did not foresee such a thing, and I have said in one of the assemblies that, based on reason, I could not imagine that such a thing is possible. Robert Kocharian is an out-going President, and he absolutely did not need to get involved in something like this, and Serj Sargsyan, for his part, was an incoming President--he did not need to initiate his five year tenure with this. I've approached our nation using rational categories; it can be said that, here, I was wrong. Our nation is far more inclined toward violence than it was possible to judge it [to be] with those categories. Take note that I was wrong. My impression of these people has been more favorable than is warranted.