Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the first president of Armenia, celebrates his 73rd birthday today.
Levon Ter-Petrosyan was born in Aleppo, Syria to a family which survived the Armenian Genocide and took part in the Musa Dagh Resistance. His family emigrated to Soviet Armenia in 1946. In 1968, he graduated from the Oriental Studies Department of the Yerevan State University. In 1972, he completed his postgraduate studies at the Leningrad State University. In 1987, he received his doctoral degree from the same university.
He was the first President of Armenia. He was popularly elected the first President of the newly independent Republic of Armenia on 16 October 1991 and re-elected on 22 September 1996.
After Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Ter-Petrosyan was elected president in October 1991 with overwhelming public support. He led the country through the Nagorno-Karabakh War with neighboring Azerbaijan, during which Armenia supported the Republic of Artsakh in fighting against Azerbaijan.
He has been accused of rigging the 1996 election, causing thousands to go into the streets to protest the results. The protesters were led by official runner-up Vazgen Manukyan, Ter-Petrosyan’s former colleague and his first Prime Minister and later the Defence Minister. The mass rallies were suppressed by military force. Due to disagreements with the key government members, especially Defence Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, Ter-Petrosyan resigned on 3 February 1998.
From his resignation up to 2007, Ter-Petrosyan was inactive in the political scene, however, he made a political comeback in September 2007 and ran for presidency in 2008.
On 1 August 2008, Ter-Petrosyan founded the Armenian National Congress which included more than a dozen of political parties and NGOs. Being the main opposition party in Armenia, the ANC was out of the parliament and was mainly involved in street struggle against Serzh Sargsyan’s government. They organized mass rallies in the wake of the Arab Spring, forcing the government to grant several political concessions. In the 2012 National Assembly election, the ANC received 7.1% of the popular vote.
A1+ presents a film about him.