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By Aza Babayan in Moscow
Attempts to stage an anti-government popular revolt in Armenia are doomed to fail because they would meet with a tough response from President Robert Kocharian, according to his most trusted oligarch who looks set to do well in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Gagik Tsarukian interrupted the election campaign of his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) to visit Moscow late last week. No details of the trip were made public by his aides in Yerevan.

RFE/RL learned on Monday that Tsarukian met with officials from President Vladimir Putin’s administration and two senior members of Russia’s parliament close to the Kremlin. It also emerged that he was interviewed by a little-known Russian television station, commenting on the political situation in Armenia and the future of its relations with Russia.

“We will develop 90 percent of our relations with Russia and 10 percent with Europe and others,” Tsarukian told the O2 TV channel in rare remarks on Armenian foreign policy. He declined to elaborate.

The tycoon, whose party is widely seen as Kocharian’s new power base, was also asked about the Armenian opposition’s chances of replicating the kind of post-election regime change that took place in Ukraine and in Georgia to Moscow’s dismay. “Our president is very strong and is closely following the pre-election struggle,” he said. “If something happens, he will strictly punish the guilty.”

Kocharian already cracked down on the opposition to suppress its most recent attempt to force him into resignation with a campaign of street protests three years ago. Some opposition groups seem undaunted by the failure of that campaign and make no secret of their plans to use the May 12 elections for again trying to spark a “democratic revolution” in the country.

(Photolur photo)
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