Kocharian, Robert Sedraki

Kocharian, Robert Sedraki,

1954–, Armenian political leader. He served (1972–74) in the Soviet army and worked as a mechanical engineer (1977–81) before graduating (1982) from the Yerevan Polytechnic Inst. A native of the ethnically Armenian region of Nagorno-KarabakhNagorno-Karabakh
, region (1990 pop. 192,000), 1,699 sq mi (4,400 sq km), SE Azerbaijan, between the Caucasus and the Karabakh range. Khankendi (the capital, formerly Stepanakert) and Shusha are the chief towns.
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 in Azerbaijan, he rose through the ranks of its Communist party. By the late 1980s, Kocharian had become a leader of the regional forces fighting to break away from Azerbaijan and incorporate Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia. After a ceasefire was declared in 1994, he became president of Nagorno-Karabakh, which subsequently became a de facto part of Armenia. Appointed Armenian prime minister in 1997, Kocharian was elected president of Armenia in 1998. He was reelected in 2003 in a runoff that observers said was tainted by fraud, and retired from office in 2008.