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Dissident Communists Rally Supporters


By Margarit Yesayan

Two prominent Armenian Communists expelled from the party’s leaders for their alleged cooperation with the authorities on Saturday sought to drum up support for their cause, meeting with several dozen Communist activists in Yerevan. Yuri Manukian, former head of the Yerevan branch of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK), and Hrant Voskanian, the deposed leader of the HKK faction in the parliament, renewed their demands for an emergency party congress.

They hope that the congress will replace the party’s present hardline leadership. The hardliners led by HKK First Secretary Vladimir Darpinian advocate a firm stance on the authorities, denounced for pursuing pro-Western foreign and economic policies.

Under the Communist statutes, an emergency congress has to convene only if at least one of third of the HKK’s estimated 60,000 members demands so. The dissident leaders have so far failed to mobilize sufficient support.

They were on Saturday again accused of maintaining close links with President Robert Kocharian. “The anti-Communist hysteria continues, and those behind it are relying on weaker individuals in the party by bribing them and offering other benefits,” said Sanatruk Sahakian, a secretary of the HKK Central Committee. Another senior member of the Central Committee, Vanya Mkhitarian, denied that the Communists are facing a major split.

Manukian was expelled from the HKK last month after a sensational statement endorsing the authorities’ opposition to Armenia joining the Russia-Belarus union -- one of the main issues on the Communist agenda.
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