Liska’s No More, But for How Long?

Suren Khachatryan
Suren Khachatryan

Suren Khachatryan


If anything, we can credit Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan for making the otherwise laborious and boring cabinet meetings into a sought-after event filled with cliffhangers that keep us guessing every week.

On Thursday, the government announced that the notorious governor of Syunik Province, Suren Khachatryan, also known as Liska, will step down from his post, which he has used for years to curry favors for President Serzh Sarkisian and deliver him bundles of votes during elections. He has also used his position to run a mafia-like fiefdom in the province and its capital Goris, which is one of the most critical cities in Armenia bordering the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

But this is not the first time that Liska has been relieved of his duties, only to return with a stronger chokehold on the region and its residents. Lest we forget that episode In June 2013 when a shootout outside his villa in Goris left a local businessman, Avetik Budaghian, dead and his brother Artak critically injured. Implicated in the armed attack was Liska’s 20-year-old son, Tigran and a bodyguard, who were arrested and charged with murder, only to be cleared of all charges. In 2014, Sarkisian reinstated Liska who continued in his post despite his son’s second arrest last year in connection with a brutal beating of two men outside Goris. Once again, Tigran was set free.

Liska’s violence against women, children and those who oppose him was even cataloged by the US Embassy in Armenia as revealed by the Wikileaks trove of State Department documents that were released several years ago.

The move to remove Liska from office can be deemed a positive step by Karapetyan, who was mandated by the president to make significant socio-economic reforms. Yet the name being mentioned as Liska’s replacement, Vahe Hakobyan, is the chief executive of the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine, Armenia’s largest mining company based in Syunik. He is yet another businessman with entrenched ties in the province, albeit not the violent pedigree of his predecessor.

The true test will be whether Liska will be charged and prosecuted for the crimes he has committed against individuals and the people of Armenia.

Let’s hope these changes by instated by Prime Minister Karapetyan will lead to true reforms.

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  1. Serop said:

    This corrupt criminal dressed in a suit is responsible for the death of many Armenians, along with Sarigisyan and other criminals they control Armenia like a personal fiefdom and kill t5hose that dare to oppose them
    Like his son Tigran , Liska is a murderer and unless these thieves & murderous are soon dealt with Armenia will never become a true democracy or prosperous. The only people prospering in Armenia are the politicians and their families who control most industry & business . WHERE ARE YOU ARF?
    Whatever happened to our ambitions of Ankhag Yev Azad Haystan? Or are you also now part of the corruption in Armenia?

  2. GB said:

    Once upon a time he was going to let Turkic herds live and own Syunik province, for his empty pocket!

  3. Հայկազ Պետրոսեան said:

    Liska and some other gangsters like him are private supporters and even donners of Serj Sarkisian. So as long as the President is on power, these people will not be punished and will stay on power by any means. So let’s hope some miracle to be happened.

  4. Shahe said:

    The prime ministers brother is one of the richest man in Russia worth billions. Hardly a change of any significance. Oligarchs and Russian interest rule the country. Until a a western educated , non oligarch , true capitalist becomes a leader I would not mention the word change in any relevance.

  5. Raffi said:

    He should be charged and prosecuted for the crimes he has committed against individuals and the people of Armenia, however Justice should prevail

  6. Robert Bedrosian said:


    Thank you for a wonderful article.

    A series on “Armenian Gangsters” would be informative and welcome for those of us interested in Armenian affairs. The mug-shot style photo is perfect too.

    Liska will be back, no doubt about it. I understand he is one of our special figures, a gangster-politician with an interest in philology.

    One thing he could do while he waits for a comeback: publish a lexicon of gangster terminology in Armenian. I’m ashamed to say I don’t know how to say “shakedown” in Armenian. For the diaspora, it should have equivalents in English, French, Russian, and Farsi. Liska could even become a force for regional peace if he put Georgian, Turkish, and Azerbaijani there, too. Such a project could bring those genius peoples together.

    Armenian Studies would welcome it too, maybe even fund it. And Liska might even find himself inducted into the Academy of Sciences.

    Just a thought.