The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party launched a fresh and more blistering attack on the rival opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) on Thursday, accusing it of helping former President Robert Kocharian, its hitherto most bitter foe, return to power.
Stepan Safarian, a Zharangutyun leader, claimed that this is the main purpose of a joint structure set up by the HAK, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) with the stated aim of fighting against electoral fraud.
“If the Armenian National Congress (HAK) leader says that his number one enemy is the [ruling] Republican Party and he won’t even criticize political forces striving for Robert Kocharian’s return, that means there is a shadowy deal,” Safarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “This joint center looks more like Robert Kocharian’s election campaign headquarters than a structure promoting free and fair elections.”
Safarian’s allegation somewhat contradicted what Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman Ruben Hakobian said at a news conference last week. Hakobian claimed that BHK leader Gagik Tsarukian, who is reputed to have close ties with Kocharian, is implementing a secret “scenario” written by HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Senior HAK members laughed off both claims. One of them, Hovannes Hovannisian, said it is “absurd” to accuse Ter-Petrosian’s bloc of furthering the political agenda of Kocharian. The latter remains the main hate figure for many HAK supporters because of his central role in the deadly 2008 crackdown on Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement.
“Zharangutyun just doesn’t allow others to view it as a partner and discuss serious issues and reach agreements with it,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Both Hovannisian and another senior HAK figure, Aram Manukian, insisted that Kocharian is not the BHK’s political patron. “Prosperous Armenia has long ceased to be with Robert Kocharian,” he told a news conference. “There is no politician in Armenia called Robert Kocharian.”
Manukian spoke of a “converge of interests” between the HAK and the BHK in the run-up to the May 6 parliamentary elections. He said Tsarukian seems genuinely interested in their freedom and fairness despite being part of Armenia’s governing coalition.
Ter-Petrosian has sought to capitalize on growing tensions between the BHK and President Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) in recent months. The HAK leader said last week that the discord will have “very important” implications for the election outcome.
The Zharangutyun claims were also dismissed on Thursday by Ara Nranian, a parliament deputy from Dashnaktsutyun. “I don’t think that the HAK is today taking steps in favor of the second president [Kocharian,]” he said. “All serious pundits realize that Armenia needs a new situation, new developments.”
“I think Zharangutyun is simply trying to present itself as an independent player and needs to justify why it doesn’t want to be, so to speak, friends with others,” Nranian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.