Hovsep Hovsepyan: Member of the Armenian People’s Movement, ASALA and Artsakh Freedom Fighter and commander. Close friend of Monte Melkonian. He fought alongside Leonid Azgaldyan in the Liberation Army (played an important role in its creation) and participated in the liberation of Karvajar, among other battles.
Hovsep Hovsepyan recalls his first visit to Artsakh: “I went to Artsakh for the first time in 1990 with Leonid Azgaldyan. Our goal was to create a national liberation army, and he took on the task of recruiting volunteers. Of course, small fighting groups already existed and had been formed, but the belief in the regime and Gorbachev’s perestroika was still strong. So many listened to us with distrust, not believing in their own strength and victory. Despite all this, in the forest, in harsh winter conditions, Leonid and I set up a military camp and participated in the liberation of twenty-seven settlements in Artsakh, including the Martuni, Hadrut, Martakert regions. When the situation on any of the fronts became tense and worsened, they rushed to us for help.”
From Hovsepyan’s memoirs, we learn that he and his grandparents, in whose arms he grew up, went to the Armenian church every Sunday, attended funerals and national holidays and fairs. Perhaps this is why, when he graduated from the University of Aix-en-Provence and received his degree as a social scientist, he chose the Armenian community in Marseille and the preservation of national traditions as the subject of his thesis.
In his birthplace, with a population of about one million, there are more than a hundred thousand Armenians, which means that one out of every ten people passing by on any street is definitely Armenian. Unfortunately, before the creation of the secret armies, many people talked about their Armenian roots as if they had forgotten their origins or remembered a detail that had nothing to do with them.
In 1985, when the French police arrested Hovsep Hovsepyan for the first time, he was the deputy editor-in-chief of a newly founded radio station in Marseille.
He was presented with a formal accusation that he had allegedly participated in the hijacking of an armored vehicle carrying a large sum of money from the airport to the central bank. After numerous interrogations, it turned out that there were extremely serious suspicions against him.
Documents surfaced that indirectly testified that Hovsep Hovsepyan had led the assassination of Turkish ambassadors in various European capitals and participated in various acts of violence.
Although the investigation failed to confirm his guilt, he remained under the surveillance of the secret police throughout his life. After each ASALA operation, Hovsepyan was summoned for interrogation. Thus, his case was heard by three judges, and when he felt that the facts were becoming increasingly grim and that he could not justify himself during the trial, he left the judge’s chambers and fled.
Endless escapes began. First he hid in France, then he went to Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Cyprus, changing nearly thirty countries in two years. As soon as Monte Melkonian was released from prison, they decided to come to Armenia together. Of course, in different directions.
This is how Hovsepyan writes about it: “I will never forget how the train that brought me from Moscow stopped at the first Armenian station, and how, despite the fact that I was sneaking into my homeland, I could not stand it and threw myself to the ground and kissed the earth. Our holy land, which had been a symbol for me all these years, suddenly became a place of worship.”