Armenians Begin a New Era in Moscow
Armenians Begin a New Era in Moscow

The Hunter

Armenian Prosecutor Leads Department Tracking International Criminals

The first thing a visitor sees on entering the office of Russian prosecutor Sahak Karapetian is a bear that used to stand nearly 12 feet but is now a rug.

Karapetian shot the bear last autumn in the remote region of Kamchatka, Russia. Now the poor creature lies splayed here, a short walk from Red Square.

While hunting is his passion, the post held by Karapetian is more about getting the "prey" home. He is chief of the Main Department for International Legal Co-Operation of the Russian Federation, an agency dealing mostly with extradition.

Karapetian's and two other departments here represent, he estimates, the largest extradition-centered legal force in the world. Over the past year, about 1,500 Russians were brought back, while about 500 were sent from Russia to their countries of origin, which turned to the Russians for assistance based on international bilateral agreements and conventions.

After graduating from Moscow State University, Karapetian began working as an investigator in Rostov-on-Don, his home town. In 1995 he was elected to the Russian Parliament and has lived in Moscow since then.

It was in Rostov, though, that he won his first big case, when in 1985 he put away a military police captain for bribery. Being led from the courtroom after a sentence of 10 years, the convicted criminal shouted to Karapetian: "I will get out and I will kill you."

Others have made similar threats.

Except for the display of unfortunate beasts and birds mounted as trophies, Karapetian appears to be a more or less modest – practically timid – man. The danger of his job does not escape his conscience, yet he refuses to travel with bodyguards.

He is asked whether his Armenian-ness is a factor in his success in a demanding and dangerous profession.

"Our people had a difficult history, which helped us to survive different situations," he says. His own ancestors ended up in Russia after fleeing during the Genocide. Six years ago the prosecutor visited Western Armenia, and from Ani took dirt back to Rostov and put it on his grandmother's grave.

"The fact that I am in this country is connected with the massacres," Karapetian says. "This knowledge makes us bolder, encourages us, and makes us more confident. Perhaps all this gives us the right make-up for being successful."

The rewards of his success are shared with the community from which he grew. On a visit to Holy Etchmiadzin he received the blessing of Catholicos Karekin II to build a church in Rostov.

The church will not only be a sanctuary, but also a memorial.

In 2001, Karapetian's 20-year-old son was killed in a car crash. Friends and family gathered soon after and agreed to finance the building of the church as an offering. This year they hope to complete it.

"We want that there should be weddings, baptisms— only good things—in this church," says the prosecutor-hunter, who excels in a world of evil.

Originally published in the May 2010 ​issue of AGBU Magazine. Archived content may appear distorted on your screen. end character

About the AGBU Magazine

AGBU Magazine is one of the most widely circulated English language Armenian magazines in the world, available in print and digital format. Each issue delivers insights and perspective on subjects and themes relating to the Armenian world, accompanied by original photography, exclusive high-profile interviews, fun facts and more.