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By Armen Zakarian

The Armenian Communist Party (HKK) distanced itself on Monday from the latest offensive against President Robert Kocharian launched by the country’s leading opposition forces.

The HKK first secretary, Vladimir Darpinian, said the Communists do not support opposition calls for Kocharian’s resignation which were sparked off by the April 2 closure of the independent A1+ television.

“We think that it is the system that should be changed first, not individuals,” Darpinian told a news conference. He said the opposition parties should rally around “concrete programs” such as Armenia’s accession to the Russia-Belarus union, reversal of privatization and nationalization of key industries.

The Communists were among 14 opposition parties that began a campaign of street protests against authorities’ decision to strip A1+ of its broadcasting frequency. But they later pulled out of what increasingly looks like an opposition alliance, fuelling fresh speculation about Darpinian’s unpublicized government links.

But the HKK leader, who recently put down yet another inner-party revolt, strongly denied the claims. He said his party remains in opposition to Kocharian.

Some members of the HKK Central Committee last month tried to oust Darpinian, accusing him of embezzling party funds and maintaining secret ties with Kocharian. But the attempt failed after a committee plenum overwhelmingly backed Darpinian.

Several other senior Communists governing Bureau have publicly disagreed with a recent decision by the party’s governing Bureau not to take part in opposition rallies in support of A1+. But they have stopped short of challenging Darpinian.
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