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OPPOSITION REP. SEES ‘POLITICAL REVENGE’ BEHIND FAILED ATTEMPT OF EX-CHIEF OF PRESIDENTIAL STAFF TO BUILD A PARTY


By Astghik Bedevian
The decision of the former chief of President Robert Kocharian’s staff to give up building his own political party this week was commented upon different by political forces in Armenia.

In the main, representatives of pro-government forces in the Armenian parties see no political pressures behind Artashes Tumanian’s refusal to continue the process of establishing a new party, called Nor Yerkir, initiated by him last month that resulted in his resignation from the post of chief of presidential staff.

The leader of the ruling Republican Party’s parliamentary faction Galust Sahakian said: “Both existing and newly emerging parties face serious organizational problems today. And party building is not necessarily something in which everyone can succeed.”

In a RFE/RL interview, however, Sahakian did not rule out the possibility of political pressures. But in his opinion, Tumanian is not a political figure who will retire from the political scene.

Representative of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF Dashnaktsutyun) Armen Rustamian took a similar stand.

“There is a popular saying: just conceiving is not enough, you should wait for the child to be born to see whether it is a baby boy or a baby girl,” he said. “The same is with this process. And for us nothing surprising has happened.”

According to Rustamian, Dashnaktsutyun will continue its normal relations with Artashes Tumanian regardless of the event as the latter was on the party’s electoral list during the past two parliamentary elections.

Member of Parliament Manuk Gasparian thinks that what happened to Tumanian is the result of his miscalculating his political strength and failure to rally sufficient political backing. “There was no revenge or pressure,” he added. In Gasparian’s opinion, although he [Tumanian] had permission to set up a party, he was not accepted as an ally by the authorities.

Only the opposition is convinced that the upper echelons of power took revenge on the former chief of presidential staff.

Viktor Dallakian of the opposition Artarutyun alliance said: “I consider it as a political revenge and political vandalism. It shows that political life in Armenia is paralyzed, and no one, even those in power, is guaranteed against such political vengeance.”

Meanwhile, Nor Yerkir party initiative group member Robert Poladian said in a conversation with RFE/RL that if someone took the responsibility to continue the work initiated by Tumanian, he would stand by that person. But he added that no such person had volunteered yet.

According to Poladian, if the group fails to make a decision on its future within a week, they will have to vacate the office they currently rent in one of Yerevan’s central streets.
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