In order to bolster his image, Armenia’s embattled former president Robert Kocharian, through his attorney, reportedly has hired a Western lobbyist, whose previous work included representing Azerbaijan, published on Medium.
Kocharian is currently facing charges of breaching Armenia’s constitutional order in relation with the March 1, 2008 post-election events, during which eight civilians and two police officers were killed in a standoff with security personnel. He was remanded into custody but later released when an appellate court overturned a decision of a lower court in Yerevan. Since his return to Armenia on July 26, Kocharian has mounted a campaign in both the local Armenian media, as well as the Western press to advance “his side” of the story and to attack Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his government.
The dubious pieces that have been appearing in the Western press with a distinct pro-Kocharian and anti-Pashinyan slant are being authored by Michael Burrell, a British lobbyist and a vice-president of Edelman and APCO Worldwide, who is now a senior adviser for the Eurasia Advisory, a pro-Russia firm headquartered in London and run by Alexander “Alex” Andreev, a Russian citizen representing Russian coal mogul Andrey Melnichenko. Among other clients, Burrell boasts Russia’s state gas company Gazprom. While the company is based in London, its ties to Moscow are quite evident.
While Burrell was working at APCO Worldwide, the firm was representing Azerbaijan in the United Stated States through a non-profit run by Kemal “Kevin” Oksuz, who currently has been remanded in Armenia, on a warrant issued by the United States Justice Department and is being investigated for tax evasion in Armenia.
Grigor Atanessian, a Fulbright fellow at the Missouri School of Journalism, who reported the news, also presents facsimiles of email communications with Burrell’s aide, Daria Eishiner, whose emails are signed off “on behalf of Aram Orbelyan,” who is one of Kocharian’s attorneys.
When on Tuesday, a recording of a phone conversation between the heads of Armenia’s National Security Service and Special Investigative Service, talking about the Kocharian case was leaked, Burrell authored an op-ed entitled, “Armenia’s ‘Watergate’ – Time for the West to act,” which was published on Wednesday in some Western media. Similarly, another op-ed authored by Burrell entitled “Democracy and the rule of law in Armenia — what President Macron should discuss with Prime Minister Pashinian,” was published one day before Pashinyan’s meeting with French President Emanuel Macron.