By Hovannes Shoghikian
Victor Dallakian, a veteran parliamentarian, confirmed on Friday his decision to leave Armenia’s largest opposition alliance in what is widely seen as a prelude to his affiliation with an ambitious party led by a government-connected tycoon.
Dallakian was reluctant to provide a detailed explanation for the move, saying only that he has a legitimate right to change political camps after years of close collaboration with nine opposition parties making up the Artarutyun (Justice) bloc. “As a deputy of the National Assembly who was elected for three consecutive terms on an individual basis, I have a right to determine my own future,” he told a news conference.
Dallakian also claimed that he has not yet joined the Prosperous Armenia party of Gagik Tsarukian, with which he has been linked for the past several months. “I repeat that I am not a member of the Prosperous Armenia party,” he said.
Still, Dallakian went on to hint strongly that his shock alliance with Tsarukian will be formalized very soon. “My political choice will reflect the interests of the people and I will use my modest capabilities to make our country prosperous,” he said.
Prosperous Armenia claims to be the country’s largest political party and set itself an ambitious task to win parliamentary elections scheduled for the beginning of next year. A growing number of local analysts regard it as a new support base of President Robert Kocharian who allegedly wants to retain a key role in the Armenian leadership after completing his second and final term in office in 2008.
Dallakian has been one of the most bitter detractors of Kocharian, having repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the ruling regime. He said on Friday that he stands by his view that the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003 as well as last November’s constitutional referendum were rigged by Kocharian.
Sources close to Prosperous Armenia have told RFE/RL that Dallakian is aspiring to a senior position in the party and the post of the speaker of the next Armenian parliament.
“The Prosperous Armenia is neither in opposition, nor in government,” the lawmaker said. “Governments are formed as a result of elections. Prosperous Armenia has not yet participated in any election.”