“The HZhK has got lighter,” declares “Aravot,” in an editorial on parliament speaker Karen Demirchian’s decision to leave the party. The reference is not only to Khachatrian’s great weight. The move has important political implications. The speaker will now be free to “put his powerful intellect to the service of Kocharian,” the paper notes scornfully. Many government officials and businessmen affiliated with the HZhK will follow suit because their “fate depends on the whims of the authorities.” Very few will believe in their stated devotion to “Karen Demirchian’s cause.” After all, the defectors are propping up the late Demirchian’s main challenger in the 1998 presidential election who many party activists think rigged their results.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says several HZhK deputies also intended sever their links with the party but changed their mind at the last moment. Still, their departure is just a matter of time. With the HZhK gripped by internal squabbles, it is already clear that any talk about keeping the political status quo that came into existence after the 1999 parliamentary elections will no longer be taken seriously.
“Zhamanak” reports that the deputies leaving the HZhK are likely to stay members of the Miasnutyun bloc’s parliamentary faction. Its HZhK wing will be reduced to only nine or ten members. The party of Stepan Demirchian is paying a heavy price for its “policy of double standards.”
“Such a showdown was inevitable,” agrees “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” “You just can’t be simultaneously in opposition and in government.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” notes that the defectors were close associates of Karen Demirchian. They will no doubt make up a new majority that is now emerging in the parliament. That process “will bring clarity” to the country’s political life, a welcome development for the paper. According to Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian, the turmoil in the HZhK is proof that “personal welfare” was the main motive behind the creation of all pro-government alliances in Armenia. Which is why they eventually fall apart. So the HZhK split definitely “carries healthy elements,” Hovannisian says.
Tensions are also brewing inside the Armenian Communist Party as evidenced by Tuesday’s ouster of one of its leaders, Yuri Manukian. “Hayots Ashkhar” says several other veteran figures advocating a “balanced” policy on the authorities are also in line for dismissal. They are being replaced by those Communists who have “distinguished themselves with an intolerant attitude to the authorities.”
The opposition Hanrapetutyun party is in the meantime holding consultations with the HZhK and several leading opposition forces, including Artashes Geghamian’s Right and Accord bloc and Ashot Manucharian’s National Accord Front, “Aravot” reports. Hanrapetutyun leaders tell the paper that the parties have given a similar assessment of the existing political situation and have a “common demand for the creation of a legitimate government in the country.”
An unidentified leader of one of those parties tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that “there will be created an alliance with the aim of overthrowing the regime of Robert Kocharian and bringing about fresh presidential elections.” Geghamian is already positioning himself for leadership of the alliance.