A former leading member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has joined a more radical opposition party that does not recognize the legitimacy of Armenia’s current and previous presidents, it emerged on Wednesday.
Ruben Hakobian aligned himself with the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party nearly two years after being expelled from Dashnaktsutyun following his public criticism of its activities. He was particularly unhappy with its decision to cut a power-sharing deal with President Serzh Sarkisian in the wake of the disputed February 2008 presidential election.
Dashnaktsutyun, which had been allied to Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian throughout his decade-long rule, contested the vote with its own candidate, who campaigned on an opposition platform. It subsequently agreed to join a new governing coalition formed by Sarkisian. The influential party also defended a harsh post-election government crackdown on supporters of the main opposition candidate, Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Hakobian, who had joined Dashnaktsutyun in 1990 and was at one point its top leader in Armenia, denounced this stance as “unprincipled” and said it only benefited Ter-Petrosian. He also called for the holding of fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.
Hakobian on Wednesday declined to comment on his decision to join Zharangutyun, a party bitterly opposed to both Sarkisian and Kocharian. He said he will explain the move “in the coming days.”
According to Stepan Safarian, a senior Zharangutyun member, the decision “was not made in one day.” He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the party and Hakobian have a history of cooperation and share the same views on key issues facing the country.
Dashnaktsutyun pulled out of the ruling coalition last year in protest against Sarkisian’s conciliatory policy on Turkey. Unlike Zharangutyun and Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK), it has not been pressing for the president’s resignation and snap elections.