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Dashnak Leader Against ‘Revolutionary’ Actions


Armenia -- Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party.

Armenia -- Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) stands for a “systemic regime change” in Armenia but considers any “revolutionary” action taken for that purpose unacceptable, a top leader of the influential opposition party said on Friday.


Hrant Markarian, the de facto head of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing Bureau, strongly criticized Armenian government policies as he opened a party congress in Yerevan that brought together hundreds of delegates from Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.

“The current authorities have neither the will nor the ability to put an end to corruption, economic injustice and the impunity of the privileged class,” he said in a speech. “We need a systemic regime change.”

Markarian made clear, however, that Dashnaktsutyun will not seek to topple President Sarkisian and his government with sustained street demonstrations and other radical actions. “When there are no real reasons for revolution and life itself doesn’t dictate it, revolutionary activity becomes an unacceptable adventure,” he said.

The remarks underlined a cautious line followed by the party since its exit from Sarkisian’s coalition cabinet in April 2009. Dashnaktsutyun leaders backed the March 2008 suppression of nonstop antigovernment protests staged by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

Armen Rustamian, another Dashnaktsutyun leader, clarified that the party will be ready to campaign against the government on the street if Sarkisian accepts a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict currently proposed by international mediators. “We would launch a struggle more powerful than our struggle against the [2009] Turkish-Armenian protocols was,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Markarian reaffirmed Dashnaktsutyun’s rejection of the “basic principles” of the conflict’s resolution which Sarkisian was due to discuss with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in Kazan, Russia later in the day. He said they require “unacceptable concessions” from the Armenian side.

“The whole nation must be prepared to face that not-so-unlikely moment,” Markarian added, referring to the possible signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord at Kazan.

The Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, another major opposition group represented in parliament, issued a similar warning on Thursday.

The Dashnaktsutyun congress will continue behind the closed doors in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor in the following days. Its opening session was attended by senior representative of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armen and its junior coalition partner, the Prosperous Armenia Party.
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