By Ruzanna Stepanian
The Armenian opposition will make more efforts to force President Robert Kocharian to resign but does not plan any anti-government rallies in Yerevan in the coming weeks, a senior member of the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc said on Friday.
Victor Dallakian refused to disclose the current opposition tactic, saying only that Artarutyun is now waiting for “the right moment” to make another push for regime change.
“Meetings which we have been having with the population will continue in Yerevan and the regions,” he told journalists. “We will choose the right moment and period for carrying out regime change as a result of a popular movement.”
Artarutyun and its allies will hold a conference on April 13 to mark the first anniversary of a violent break-up of its overnight demonstration in central Yerevan. The unsanctioned protest was the culmination of the bloc’s and the opposition National Unity Party’s unsuccessful 2004 offensive against Kocharian. It fizzled out by June amid mass arrests of opposition activists around the country.
The campaign is believed to have been motivated by the November 2003 “rose revolution” in Georgia. The Armenian opposition has since drawn further inspiration from the equally successful pro-democracy movements in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz uprising involved a violent seizure of the presidential palace.
Dallakian warned that the Armenian authorities risk leaving the opposition with no option other than toppling them in a similar fashion. “We consider the developments that occurred in Kyrgyzstan undesirable,” he said. “We are against bloodshed. But the ruling regime is doing everything to have the Kyrgyz scenario implemented in Armenia.”
Kocharian and his allies have said that attempts at replicating the Western-backed ex-Soviet revolutions in Armenia are unconstitutional and will be dealt with accordingly. There have been reports in the pro-opposition press about the Armenian special police practicing crowd dispersal in anticipation of anti-Kocharian rallies this year. Police officials have allegedly been instructed to again keep track of and stifle opposition activity across the country.
The 2004 opposition drive did not attract massive popular support and opposition leaders say privately that they are not yet sure they can pull larger crowds now. Some of them also hope that Western powers, notably the United States, will warn Kocharian not to use force against peaceful demonstrators.
(Photolur photo: Victor Dallakian.)