By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian opposition officially ended late Wednesday its unsuccessful spring campaign for regime change, again rallying several thousands supporters in Yerevan but setting no dates for the next protest.
“The first stage of the opposition movement is over,” Albert Bazeyan, a leader of the Artarutyun alliance, said in a concluding speech. He said Artarutyun and its principal ally, the National Unity Party (AMK), have to consider new methods of political struggle and need time for doing that.
Other opposition leaders cited external factors such as the ongoing peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh and the upcoming discussion of the situation in Armenia at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to justify their decision.
Some opposition leaders admitted privately that their two-month drive to force Kocharian into resignation has lost momentum since the April 12 march towards the presidential palace in the capital which was violently broken up by the police. They said further anti-government rallies are therefore unlikely to be held in the summer months. The AMK and Artarutyun bloc had earlier repeatedly postponed a promised repeat of similar “decisive” actions.
Kocharian and his allies have maintained throughout the confrontation that the opposition actions are unconstitutional, while responding to them with an unprecedented crackdown denounced by local and international human rights groups. They say the opposition’s failure to pull huge crowds testifies to a lack of popular support for its leaders.
Opposition leaders, however, counter that it is the ruling regime that lacks legitimacy. They remained on Friday uncompromising in their demands for Kocharian’s resignation, seeking to convince their supporters that this is just a matter of time. “We will bring this process to a logical end,” Artarutyun’s Stepan Demirchian told the crowd which has visibly thinned since the start of the campaign in early April.