Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian on Tuesday dismissed though his aides media reports that he is having second thoughts about participating in next February’s presidential election after his weekend meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian.
Tsarukian was widely expected to officially announce his presidential bid this week. However, the surprise meeting with Sarkisian made that announcement look less certain. Some Armenian newspapers claimed that he has decided against challenging the incumbent president in the upcoming ballot because of strong government pressure.
Tsarukian’s spokeswoman Ivetta Tonoyan dismissed those claims as mere media speculation. She said the BHK leader has made no final decision on the presidential election yet and therefore could not have reconsidered anything.
BHK spokesman Tigran Urikhanian made a similar point. “Nobody has ever provided any information on behalf of the BHK and its leader in relation to the presidential elections,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “Therefore, claims about regretting or changing an unannounced decision are inappropriate.”
Asked whether the BHK may not field a presidential candidate, Urikhanian said, “Whatever the BHK does, it will be done on the basis of one conviction. All steps will be taken not for occupying posts coveted by many people but for changing the quality of people’s lives.”
In Tonoyan’s words, Tsarukian’s long-awaited decision is likely to be announced in the next few days. She said it will follow a meeting of the BHK’s governing Political Council.
Over the past year, the BHK, which has the second largest faction in parliament, is thought to have faced strong government pressure to throw his weight behind Sarkisian’s reelection plans. It has withstood that pressure until now, pulling out of Armenia’s ruling coalition in June and increasingly criticizing the government after that.