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By Ruzanna Stepanian
The leader of the once influential Armenian Communist Party (HKK) on Tuesday brushed aside calls by former senior members of his party for the reunification of all disparate Communist groups active in the country.

The idea was publicly floated by three prominent Communists that were scandalously expelled from the HKK in late 2004. They said the HKK and other parties championing the Communist ideology will stand no chance of winning seats in Armenia’s parliament unless they form a single party and jointly contest next year’s parliamentary elections.

The idea was approved by Yuri Manukian, the leader of one of the splinter groups called the United Communist Party. Vazgen Safarian of the Progressive Communist Party favored a less radical solution, saying that the Communists should form an electoral alliance, rather than a party.

However, the HKK first secretary Ruben Tovmasian ruled out any reconciliation and cooperation with individuals that were ousted from his party at various times, saying that they are not concerned with Communist unity and simply want to return to parliament. “We can not march with people who were expelled from the Communist Party,” he told RFE/RL. “They care not about the strengthening of the Communist Party but their opportunistic interests. Every member of the HKK knows what a reunification with them would mean.”

The remarks were primarily addressed to Khoren Sargsian, Norik Petrosian and Sanatruk Sahakian -- former HKK leaders that were at the center of the most recent split within the party’s ranks. The three men were expelled from the HKK in November 2004 after mounting an unsuccessful revolt against Tovmasian. The latter was controversially reelected as first secretary at a party congress despite the dissenters’ allegations that he secretly collaborated with President Robert Kocharian. The congress was marred by scuffles between supporters of the rival camps.

The bitter split dealt a further blow to the HKK’s political clout that has diminished dramatically in the past several years. The staunchly pro-Russian party, which stands for the restoration of state control of the economy, polled 10 percent of the vote in the parliamentary and presidential elections held between 1995 and 1999. However, it fielded no candidate the 2003 presidential election and failed to win a single parliament seat in the last parliamentary election.
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