By Emil Danielyan and Ruben Meloyan
Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian has stood by his view that Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his associates resorted to a mass hypnosis Armenia’s population and other “psychological tricks” to muster popular support for their continuing campaign for regime change.
The theory about opposition recourse to the so-called “neuro-linguistic programming” (NLP) is part of the Armenian authorities’ coup case brought against the opposition leader following last February’s disputed presidential election. Hovsepian declared in early March that Ter-Petrosian managed to attract unexpectedly strong popular support for his presidential bid because of his “psychological sabotage” launched against disgruntled Armenians.
Ter-Petrosian, who had served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, was thought to be highly unpopular when he ended his decade-long political retirement and announced his participation in the presidential ballot in September 2006. Despite an extremely hostile coverage of his political activities by the government-controlled media, he quickly attracted a substantial following and emerged as Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s main election challenger with his harsh attacks on the government.
According to the Central Election Commission, Ter-Petrosian won 21.5 percent of the vote, trailing only Sarkisian, the official election winner. The ex-president has rejected the official vote results as fraudulent and rallied tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan to demand a re-run of the ballot. The authorities used lethal force to end the protests on March 1-2, claiming to have foiled a coup d’etat. Dozens of opposition members and supporters were arrested in the following days.
In an interview with the daily “Aravot” published on Tuesday, Hovsepian insisted that many of the opposition demonstrators were hypnotized by Ter-Petrosian’s and other opposition leaders’ use of words such as “fatherland,” “family” and “we’ll win.” “Of course I remain of the opinion which is substantiated by materials of the criminal case,” he said.
“We have certain individuals who have openly declared that they were in such a state [of psychosis.] The criminal case contains testimony to the effect that they were in delusion,” the chief prosecutor added without elaborating.
Ter-Petrosian aides were quick to again laugh off the allegations. “I can understand an individual with Soviet criminal mentality who probably has no idea of political struggle, political statements, political tactics and public mobilization,” said Arman Musinian, a spokesman for the ex-president.
“I think we shouldn’t be upset with that,” Musinian told journalists. “Each of us knows some things and doesn’t know other things. The sad thing is that an individual lacking elementary knowledge occupies the post of prosecutor-general.”