By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) said on Thursday that its has expelled one of its prominent members who has challenged the legitimacy of President Serzh Sarkisian and called for the holding of fresh national elections.
A source in the party’s Supreme Body in Armenia said Ruben Hakobian was ousted for violating Dashnaktsutyun’s statutes, but refused to give details.
According to Vahan Hovannisian, a member of the party’s worldwide Bureau, Hakobian has twice asked the Supreme Body to terminate his membership. “The requests could have been granted and he could have willingly left the party,” Hovannisian told reporters. “But in the process he has been involved in some anti-party activities. This is my presumption.”
A former parliament deputy, Hakobian became Dashnaktsutyun’s de facto top leader in Armenia in 1996-1998, after it was controversially banned by then President Levon Ter-Petrosian. His influence declined with the lifting of the ban by Ter-Petrosian’s successor, Robert Kocharian, and the release in early 1998 of Hovannisian and other party leaders imprisoned on grave charges.
Hakobian was subsequently appointed as Armenia’s consul-general in Saint-Petersburg, Russia. He occupied that position until recently.
In a series of recent public pronouncements, Hakobian, has challenged the legitimacy of Sarkisian’s victory in the February 19 presidential election which he believes was undemocratic. He has also held Ter-Petrosian, the main opposition presidential candidate, responsible for Armenia’s culture of electoral fraud. He believes that the only way to overcome the country’s post-election crisis is to hold fresh presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Hakobian confirmed that he himself wanted to leave the nationalist party represented in the government. “I have received no information through the party channels,” he said, commenting on his expulsion.