By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A former leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) criticized the current party leadership on Friday, saying that its “unprincipled” stance has enabled former President Levon Ter-Petrosian to emerge as the country's main opposition force.
Ruben Hakobian was expelled from Dashnaktsutyun this week after repeatedly criticizing the government’s conduct of the February 19 presidential election and other policies and calling for fresh national elections. Party sources said he Hakobian violated Dashnaktsutyun’s century-old statutes that bar members from publicly challenging decisions taken by the party leadership.
Hakobian, who had joined Dashnaktsutyun in 1990 and was at one point its top leader in Armenia, said he is bewildered by the expulsion because he himself twice requested a mutually amicable termination of his membership. “All this is a little unpleasant,” he told RFE/RL in an interview. “I would like to know why I was expelled.”
Hakobian confirmed that he had “serious disagreements” with Dashnaktsutyun’s top leaders over the strategy adopted by them before after the presidential election. He singled out the party’s decision to remain part of a government which it criticized during the election campaign.
Dashnaktsutyun’s presidential candidate, Vahan Hovannisian, urged Armenians to reject their current and former leaders, saying that they are both responsible for the country’s socioeconomic woes. That strategy clearly failed to work, with Hovannisian getting only 6 percent of the vote, according to official election results.
Dashnaktsutyun subsequently agreed to join a new coalition government formed by the new President Serzh Sarkisian, citing serious external and internal challenges facing Armenia. One of the party leaders, Hrant Markarian, has accused Ter-Petrosian, a longtime Dashnaktsutyun foe, of being an agent of Western powers which he believes were keen to provoke a “color revolution” in Armenia.
Hakobian claimed that this stance is “unprincipled” and has only benefited Ter-Petrosian. “I just can’t understand why the opposition field was fully handed to Levon Ter-Petrosian,” he said.
“The Armenian people are divided into two sections,” he added. “One is with the authority, the other with Levon Ter-Petrosian. This is a very selfish approach which is beneficial for both sides.”
Hakobian asserted at the same time that many Armenians dislike the two mutually hostile camps. “A considerable segment of our society, in terms of both quality and quantity, stands in between these two poles and suffers from the standoff between them,” he said, stressing the need for the emergence of a third force sharing this sentiment.
Hakobian also said that despite his disappointment with the party leadership he will not seek to engineer defections of Dashnaktsutyun members supporting him. “I wouldn’t like to see such processes unfold within Dashnaktsutyun,” he said.
(Photolur photo: Ruben Hakobian.)