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Armenia: Ex-President’s Wild Games

Newly-revealed summer 2009 photos of ex-Soviet Armenia’s former president Robert Kocharian posing with hunted “wild game,” including a lion, in Tanzania have Armenian bloggers talking. Yet few seem surprised – a national reserve employee’s illegal boar hunting and an oligarchic donkey-lion fight were caught on tape the same year. One blogger, nonetheless, reads political overtones in the ex-president’s luxurious safari adventures.

The Armenian Observer Blog, Artur Papyan’s resourceful site, posts one of the controversial photographs with the following note:

Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharian is a big fan of safaris. Here he is proudly posing on a killed lion. Years of observing Kocharian have taught me one thing – he never does anything without a purpose. The fact he has posed on a lion means he wanted to let everyone know he is the lion killing kind.

Coincidentally, the animal’s name is synonymous to the name of Kocharian’s bitter political rival, Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrossian. In a recent display of distaste for each other, Kocharian told an allegoric story about his African safaris, directing pro-Ter-Petrossian media to finding and publicising this very photo, which made a headline story on “Haykakan Zhamanak” today.


Ahuramazd, a pro-opposition Live Journal community member, posts four photographs without comment. But he prompts quite a discussion.

Fellow user Dabavog reacts in Armenian:


հայ ժողովրդի, հատկապես, ղեկավարության եւ բնության անհամատեղելիությունը հատուկ ուսումնասիրություն է պահանջում

The lack of harmony between Armenians (especially the government) and nature requires a special study.

Pigh, a pro-government activist, defends the former president in Russian:

Мазд,а в чем преступление? Ты мясо не кушаешь?

[Ara]mazd, what’s the crime? You don’t eat meat?

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