By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Artashes Geghamian, a top opposition leader, signaled a radical re-orientation of his economic and foreign policy agendas towards Russia as he visited eastern Armenia on an election trip on Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, some of my colleagues keep saying, ‘Let’s go to Europe, let’s go to America,’ whereas I say ‘Russia,’” Geghamian said, meeting with opposition supporters in Martuni, a small near the eastern coast of Lake Sevan.
The outspoken leader of the National Unity Party (AMK) did not elaborate on the remark. Visiting the northwestern city of Gyumri on a similar campaign trip late last month, he said Armenia should integrate its economy into Russia’s in order to achieve sustainable development.
The statement harked back to Geghamian’s past reputation of a staunchly pro-Russian politician. As recently as during the 2003 presidential election campaign, he called for Armenia’s accession to the Russia-Belarus union and replacement of the Armenian dram with the Russian ruble.
Geghamian radically revised his pro-Russian discourse following the success of Western-backed revolutions in neighboring Georgia and other former Soviet republics, which raised hopes for similar regime change in Armenia among local opposition leaders. Addressing an AMK congress in February 2005, he described the United States as the “main pillar of the democratization and strengthening of the Republic of Armenia.” The dramatic U-turn did not earn him much support in the West, though.