Prosperous Armenia (BHK), the second most important party in the ruling coalition, said on Wednesday that it is looking into what it described as fake letters of resignation filed on behalf of several dozen BHK members in the southern Ararat province.
The party’s regional branch has received 58 such applications this month. According to its chairman, Tigran Stepanian, 22 of them were signed by individuals who were never affiliated with the BHK. He said 15 other purported signatories have claimed that they did not decide to leave the BHK and tender their resignations in writing.
“We are now looking into those applications to see whether those applications were written by the same people,” Stepanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
He insisted that only 21 members have quit the party led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian. “We are grateful to anyone who leaves our party today, at this difficult moment,” he said, referring to the unfolding campaigning for the May parliamentary elections.
Among those defectors is Karen Khachatrian, the former deputy head of the BHK structures in the regional towns of Ararat and Vedi. Stepanian suggested that Khachatrian quit because of being appointed to a senior position in Ararat’s police department.
Incidentally, Tsarukian was due to visit Ararat and meet with local party activists on Wednesday. Stepanian claimed that the tycoon will also admit more than 1,000 local residents into the BHK ranks.
The resignations have fuelled more speculation about a rift between the BHK and President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Relations between the two parties have reportedly deteriorated in recent months because of Tsarukian’s apparent reluctance to pledge support for Sarkisian’s reelection in 2013. Both parties deny serious discord between them.
The HHK on Wednesday denied any connection with the defections. Its deputy chairman, Galust Sahakian, insisted that the BHK is “our rival but not enemy.” “We ourselves have so many members that we have trouble accommodating them,” Sahakian told a news conference.
“Every citizen has the right to join any party,” he said. “After they come to a party they sometimes see that it’s not their place. People come and go for various reasons. I find it very natural.”