The two top leaders of a key opposition party aligned in the Armenian National Congress (HAK) have stepped down amid conflicting reports about their disagreements with the opposition bloc led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian.
The Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), which was Armenia’s ruling party from 1990-1998, announced the resignation of its chairman, Ararat Zurabian, in a statement issued late on Thursday. The statement gave no reasons for the surprise development.
“He himself will comment,” a party spokesman, Karen Karapetian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Mr. Zurabian resigned only as chairman of the HHSh board and remains a member of the board.”
Zurabian, who spent several months in detention after the February 2008 presidential election, remained unreachable on Friday, switching off his phone and avoiding any contacts with journalists. He stepped down just days after the equally mysterious resignation of his deputy, Khachatur Kokobelian.
Kokobelian declined a comment when approached by an RFE/RL correspondent at the HHSh headquarters on Thursday evening. He said he will explain his decision “later on.”
The HHSh spokesman claimed earlier this week that Kokobelian quit because of disagreeing with the HAK’s cautious strategy of challenging Armenia’s leadership. The businessman favors more “decisive” actions against the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian, he said.
But according to unconfirmed reports, both Zurabian and Kokobelian were suspected by HAK leaders of secretly collaborating with the authorities. Ter-Petrosian, who maintains a strong influence on the former ruling party, is rumored to have personally told them to resign from the HHSh leadership.
An HAK representative, Vladimir Karapetian, declined to confirm or refute this. “We don’t know anything about that,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.