By Karine Kalantarian
Four opposition parties denounced on Friday a court’s refusal to certify that former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian has been an Armenian citizen for the last ten years -- a key requirement for his participation in the forthcoming presidential elections.
In a joint statement, the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), Hanrapetutyun and two smaller organizations said the ruling shows that Armenian judiciary is controlled by President Robert Kocharian and his government. They also charged that Kocharian is himself not eligible to run for president.
A Yerevan court of first instance on Thursday turned down Hovannisian’s appeal against the presidential administration’s refusal to backdate his citizenship to 1991, when he first applied for it. The former minister, who was born in the United States and held a U.S. passport until 2001, appealed to the higher Review Court on Friday.
“The litigation proved that Robert Kocharian is simply afraid of Raffi Hovannisian and his high approval ratings,” his spokesman, Ashot Aghababian, told RFE/RL.
The opposition statement said Kocharian himself does not meet the ten-year citizenship and residency requirement because he moved to Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh only in 1997. It said Kocharian has “blatantly violated the Armenian constitution” by submitting a “false” police document declaring that he has permanently resided in Armenia for the past ten years.
The leader of Hanrapetutyun, Aram Sarkisian, accused the authorities of using “double standards” in the registration of presidential candidates.
Kocharian and his allies reject such accusations.