By Hrach Melkumian
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian received on Monday an enthusiastic welcome in rural areas of the central Aragatsotn province where many voters continue to associate him with his hugely popular late father, Karen Demirchian.
The family connection, the main source of public support for the presidential candidate, was once again stressed by his close aides as they promoted his presidential bid in an area that had overwhelmingly voted for Armenia’s Soviet-era leader in 1998.
“Stepan Demirchian is the son of Karen Demirchian. Everyone knows his parents, his roots,” his campaign manager, Grigor Harutiunian, declared at a rally in the largest local town, Talin.
Demirchian, for his part, promised his supporters to fight corruption and government-linked “clans” in the event of his electoral victory. “There will be no positive change until the government is elected by the people,” he said, again challenging the legitimacy of the current authorities.
Arshak Sadoyan, another popular oppositionist who is now campaigning with Demirchian, said the elections are an opportunity to oust President Robert Kocharian “without bloodshed.”
The rally followed a series of meetings with residents of surrounding villages that highlighted the extent of rural support for the leader of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK). “Each of us will vote for you,” said one man in Agarak village which was completely rebuilt in the late 1970s, during the late Demirchian’s rule, after a disastrous flooding.
“I have no expectations from the current authorities, and that’s why I would like to see something new,” said another resident in neighboring Nerkin Bazmabert village.