The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) stepped up its criticism of the Armenia’s current leadership on Wednesday, saying that the country is controlled by a “privileged class” of wealthy government-linked citizens.
The influential party, which quit President Serzh Sarkisian’s governing coalition 19 months ago, also decried what it sees as a lack of democracy and rule of law and reiterated its stated commitment to “regime change.”
“A rule of wealth has been formed in Armenia. It has nothing to do with the will of the people,” said Armen Rustamian, the de facto head of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia. He claimed that the country’s political, judicial and economic systems are regulated by “unwritten and unconstitutional laws” that benefit only “representatives of a privileged class who do what they want.”
“There is widespread corruption and inept governance,” Rustamian told a news conference. “There is a fusion of government and business and a monopolistic economy based on that.”
“According to various estimates, 40 to 50 families essentially decide Armenia’s budget,” he added. “It is therefore absolutely meaningless to talk about the middle class.”
Dashnaktsutyun, which has branches in all major Armenian communities abroad, was a major ally of former President Robert Kocharian throughout his 1998-2008 rule. It joined the coalition government formed by his successor, President Sarkisian, in April 2008 only to pull out of it in April 2009 in protest against his policy of rapprochement with Turkey.
While strongly condemning that policy, Dashnaktsutyun has so far been careful not to campaign for the president’s resignation and the conduct of fresh presidential and parliamentary elections.
The nationalist party announced the start of nationwide anti-government protests when it rallied several hundred supporters in the central Armenian town of Ashtarak in late September. It has held no fresh rallies since then, however.
Rustamian, who also heads the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign relations, said leadership change alone would not address the state of affairs in Armenia. He said his party stands for a “drastic and radical change of the entire government system” that would “root out the system of the government’s reproduction” and allow for democratic elections.
Rustamian dismissed critics’ claims that Dashnaktsutyun itself contributed to Armenia’s culture of electoral fraud with its more than decade-long support for the ruling establishment.