Tigran Karapetian, the owner of the ALM TV station controversially closed last month, stopped short of demanding snap elections as an ultimatum issued by him to the Armenian government expired on Monday.
Karapetian held a series of rallies in Yerevan last month in protest against state regulators’ decision not to grant ALM a new broadcasting license. Addressing thousands of supporters on January 19, he threatened to campaign for the ouster of Armenia’s leadership and the conduct of fresh national elections if it fails to meet his far-reaching political and economic demands by February 28.
The demands included the release of all “political prisoners,” the doubling of the national minimum wage, pensions and poverty benefits, sharp tax cuts, and a 7 percent cap on commercial bank lending rates.
Karapetian did not act on his threat as he again rallied supporters on Monday. He said instead that he will hold another rally on March 21.
“On March 21, we will not demand pre-term elections, we will demand that they [the authorities] leave us,” he told a crowd of some 1,000 people.
Some of the protesters seemed bewildered by Karapetian’s caution and responded disapprovingly.
Karapetian, who set up ALM about a decade ago after making a fortune in Russia, blamed poor attendance of his latest gathering on what he claimed was the closure of roads leading to Yerevan. But several protesters, who arrived from nearby regions, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that they had no trouble reaching the capital.