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An Interview with Virab Khachatryan, Foreign Law Specialist

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This week’s interview is with Virab Khachatryan, a Foreign Law Specialist in our Global Legal Research Center covering select jurisdictions in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.  

Describe your background

I was born to a blue-collar family in Yerevan, Armenia, a small, friendly country, located in Eastern Europe. As a child, my parents taught me to be kind, tolerant, hard-working and to live every day correctly. My grandmother was a Russian-speaker and she was a typical bearer of Russian culture, while my parents were mostly Armenian speakers and bearers of Armenian culture. So when I started to speak, as my parents say, I was speaking Russian to those who speak Russian and Armenian to those who speak Armenian. I was basically surrounded by a multicultural environment, which I really enjoyed. As a result, I feel in myself a sort of mix of cultures, perfectly understanding traditions, customs and mentality of both Armenian and Russian people, and feeling most comfortable in a diverse cultural environment.

What is your academic/professional history?

In 2005, I earned my Masters degree in Law from Yerevan State University, Faculty of Law. To be candid, when I joined the law school as a 16-year old boy, I had only an abstract understanding of what law is. When I was asked recently who or what influenced my choice of the legal profession, my answer was pretty simple: “My parents: they wished for me to become a lawyer.” My career path includes a mix of private and public sector employment. I worked at a law firm, dealing mostly with business transactions; at Armenia’s Ministry of Justice where I worked in the area of international relations, conducting legal analysis of draft treaties and working with the European Court of Human Rights; and Armenia’s Ministry of Defense.

I joined the Ministry of Defense in 2005, first working in the procurement section where I mostly did research on procurement regulations and drafted procurement-governing legal acts. Then I joined the Defense Policy Department in the Ministry, which at the time was responsible for conducting reforms in export control and defense management areas. In the capacity of Senior Lawyer, I drafted laws regulating military items and dual-use items export control laws as well as related government decrees, which were adopted in 2009. After a successful completion of the mentioned projects, I was appointed to the position of a Legal Adviser to the First Deputy Minister. In that capacity I was responsible for advising the First Deputy Minister on legal aspects of public relations, defense management and international public law. My portfolio also includes conducting legal research for the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, Yerevan Office, on legal issues of democratic control of armed forces.

Virab Khachatryan standing on a hill overlooking the city of San Diego and the ocean.
Virab in San Diego

In 2011, I was awarded a scholarship to complete my LL.M in Business Law at the American University, Washington College of Law. After completing the program in June 2012, I joined the Global Legal Research Center of the Law Library of Congress, where I conduct research relating to legislation of post-Soviet and Eastern European countries.

How would you describe your job to other people?

My job here is a typical legal research job, which I really enjoy. I assist Dr. Peter Roudik, the Director of the Center, in conducting legal research on legislation of post-Soviet and Eastern European countries. This includes writing research reports on various legal topics relating to post-Soviet and Eastern European countries for the United States Congress, executive agencies and the judicial branch, as well as providing reference assistance to the public at large.  I also help prepare updates on new legal developments in these jurisdictions for the general public through the Law Library’s flagship publication, the Global Legal Monitor.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library of Congress?

Congress is a symbol of democracy for the entire world. Even after World War II, when the world was in deep crisis of democracy, the United States, and Congress especially, took the function to supply the world with democratic ideas. Though the situation has changed a lot since then, Congress is still widely admired for its democratic traditions all over the world. The Library of Congress, as an arm of the Congress whose functions include providing research support for members of Congress, is a prestigious institution. Working in such an institution provides me with both spiritual satisfaction and professional development opportunities, as one can feel himself a part of democratic processes and accept various challenges which are necessary for every professional’s standing.

What is the most interesting fact that you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?

It was really interesting to see all the book collections that the Law Library of Congress possesses. The fact that one can find every book he/she needs for research really creates an atmosphere of self-confidence for both Law Library staff as well as for researchers using its resources.

 What is something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I have great interest in mountain climbing. It may sound strange, but I really love heights. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to climb mountains in the U.S. But I am open to suggestions about and/or offers to tag along with co-workers who have similar interests.

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