Henrik Khachatryan’s formula of having a rule of law state was very clear and simple as his life was. Constitutional law expert and Armenia’s Prosecutor General was an upright man, liked to joke and read detective books. The official never abused his official powers. This is Henrik Khachatryan in his wife’s Aida Iskoyan’s memory. Literate and educated young man, a dedicated son, husband and father of the family, and eventually a man who was trying to root the rule of law in our society.
What was Henrik Khachatryan’s formula of having a rule of law state; how he became a Prosecutor General, and what kind of a man was he? We tried to refer to the still closed cases from the identified events in our interview. Our interview is wit Mrs. Aida Iskoyan, the Head of Chair of Environmental Law Resource Center of Law Faculty of YSU, President of the Environmental Public Advocacy Center NGO.
The interview was made in the frames of the project – “RA General Prosecutors”. Henrik Khachatryan was assassinated in his office in Yerevan, in 1998.
– Mrs. Iskoyan, let’s try to understand who Henrik Khachatryan was
– It’s really difficult to say in one word. A man, who was really interesting for the surrounding, very useful, loved by his family and friends. An Armenian from a capital letter, knowing and respecting the state, and an Honest Citizen. After the university, he started teaching as a lecturer, I was a lecturer as well, then he went to the Central Committee, worked as the Deputy Head of the department of propaganda, the he was assigned to the position of the Prosecutor of Orjonikidze District. The Prosecution Office was working really successfully. The prosecutor’s office was recognized as a basic thanks to him. He was very dedicated to his work. I would never say that he was arrogant official. The higher the position was the more available he became for the surrounding.
– He was also open in communication with the media, wasn’t he?
– Yes, he was. He was saying we should cooperate with the media, as they are giving information; we have to tell people the truth. I remember a press conference when the reporters asked him, “Mr. Khachatryan when we shall have the legal state?” he smiled and replied, “Do you expect that the Prosecutor General shall say something really intelligent? No. I will be when; I, you, and the others will learn to cross the street under the green light.”
– Let’s go back to the student years. You briefly mentioned above, but I’m interested in how your story started? Was he a romantic person?
– Yes really very romantic. We were in the same group at the university. It so happened that two gold medalists of the schools entered the university. Our names were written side by side and posted in the foyer as the students showed high performance. We learned together till the fourth year, and then realized that we should live together till the end of life. Henrik always was very attentively listening to my answers at the seminars, so that to tell me my mistakes after wards. In this way we were trying to find opportunities to communicate with each other.
– What literature did he like to read more?
– He liked arts and literature. In addition to the Classic literature he liked detective books. He was reading pretty much, there was not any book that he had not read. Books were everywhere in our house even in the armchairs. Henrik had graduated from school in Amasia. His teacher told that in winters the roads were blocked and their settlement was cut from the other world. In those days Henrik was reading all the books that were in their library and waiting for the roads to open so that new books would arrive. In summer he was reading books lying in the hay so that no one will hinder him. He liked Russian literature very much. Henrik also wrote poems. Literature was art was in his soul.
– Has he devoted any acrostic to you?
– Yes, but it is only mine.
– How was he in the family, as a father and husband?
– My children always say there was never a strife and dissension in our house. In addition, there was equality in our family. We never consider that the man shall order and the woman shall obey.
– How was he appointed to the Prosecutor General’s post? Was it news for you or an awaited event?
– There were rumors, but most of them were about his appointment to the position of the Minister of Justice. I remember the day when he phoned me and said the he would take me home from work. I went down into the yard and we sat together. He had a small radio with him. I asked what the radio was saying. He replied in Russian «Жена, все говорят, а ты ничего не знаешь, рядом с тобой сидит генеральный прокурор» (“My wife, everybody is speaking, but you do not know, you are sitting with the Prosecutor General”).
– I believe Mr. Khachatryan was giving orders only in the workplace, due to the specifics of his work?
– Not only, One of his important qualities was diligence. For example, he had to be in office at 8:30 every day. Once he came home and told me, “the cleaning lady feels un easy when I come early and she has not finished her work yet. It will be better if I go to work some 10 minutes later when she would have finished her work, and will not feel uneasy.”
At work, he was always friendly. The employees were telling me that he was entering all the offices, greeting and talking with his staff, He was trying to pass his warmth to the others. The system is a large family. He never avoids from communication with others. The demonstrators, who had lost their deposits in banks, came to the prosecution building and shouted. Once he instructed his assistant to allow everyone come up to his office without checking them. Then we asked him if he was not afraid that someone could have had a weapon and caused him harm. He answered, “They are my nation, and I work for them. Why should I be afraid?” He was a very bright man and strict. He had two service cars, which were taking him to work. Once I asked him to give one car to me. He said that it was a service car and added that there are taxis, and that I could use the taxi service. He was very sad that people are migrating. He said that people chose this not for the reason of the material conditions, or that the salary was low, but for the fact that the law does not work.
– Henrik Khachatryan was born on 22 May. How do you celebrate his birthday?
– He did not like gatherings, parties and noise. He liked to be at home, with his family. Even could leave the wedding party, go home and read a book. He was resting so.
– He was born in Leninakan, currently Gyumri. As a rule people in Gyumri are with the sense of humor.
– Yes, he was a man of great humor, and liked to tell jokes. His anecdotes were always heard at the meetings, he used of humor even in the lecture room.
– Let’s talk about his scientific achievements. Henrik Khachatryan was a constitutional law expert.
– Yes he even used to say, “God in the Heavens, Law on the Earth.” In addition he always said that the lawyer should know all branches of the law, because the Constitution is opened in all the other sectors. I remember the dark years; he came and said that he should write an alternative draft of the Constitution, which later will be the basis for the official draft. Nobody had asked him. The motivation that the Constitution is the fundamental law and that it should be consistent with the mission obliged him to take that burden of writing. He was writing the Constitution under the candle light. The Institute of the Human rights Defender was also included in the text that he wrote. This institute was not included in the text of 1995, it was added later. He was convinced that the Constitutions should be interpreted, and in 1995 he prepared the interpretation of the Constitution.
– If he were alive today, what would he say or change?
– He would never tolerate the greed and illegality. Once I heard a program, where a party representative criticized the prosecutor’s office, all completely unfounded. I urged him to make phone call to that person and explain his mistakes. But he answered, “You want everyone love your husband, you love is completely enough for me.”
Interview by Gevorg Tosunyan
Photos: from 1 to 10 from the Henrik Khachatryan’s personal archive.
Photos of the interview with Aida Iskoyan by Alexander Sargsyan
Author of the idea – Karen Zadoyan