By Ruzanna Stepanian
Opposition leader Stepan Demirchian further distanced himself from his more radical allies on Monday, saying that Armenian society is not yet prepared for a popular “revolution” promised by them.
Demirchian also admitted that his Artarutyun (Justice) bloc may fall apart next year due to growing tactical differences between his People’s Party (HZhK) and other parties making up Armenia’s largest opposition grouping.
“If certain parties affiliated with the alliance find it necessary to pull out of the alliance, that will be their business,” he told RFE/RL in an interview. “I will just say that the HZhK can operate separately, while cooperating with reliable partners. There will certainly be regroupings in 2006 within both the government and opposition camps. Nothing is perpetual in this world.”
Some of the Artarutyun factions, notably the radical Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, are increasingly at odds with Demirchian over how to deal with the Armenian authorities. They as well as several other opposition parties are currently in the process of setting up a new umbrella structure that will coordinate their continuing efforts at a popular pro-democracy movement. They have already tried unsuccessfully to use last month’s disputed constitutional referendum stir up an anti-government revolt.
The new opposition coalition is expected to be modeled on the famous Karabakh Committee that led the 1988 movement for Karabakh’s reunification with Armenia. Demirchian said the idea is “good” but not realistic. “I am against hasty decisions and think that issues must be solved in due course,” he said. “You can’t achieve results with artificial format changes. Everything must be natural.”
Pointing to poor attendance of the post-referendum opposition rallies in Yerevan, Demirchian said Armenians are “not ripe for a revolution” at this juncture. But he denied that this means he has lost hope of effecting regime change before the next national elections due in 2007 and 2008. “We must do everything to ensure that a legitimate government is installed as soon as possible,” he said.
The radical opposition, meanwhile, plans to resume its regular street protests in Yerevan on January 27. Demirchian reiterated that he and his party will not take part in them.