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Armenian Tycoon Signals Presidential Bid


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (R) and Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian attend a party conference in Yerevan, 3Mar2012.

Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (R) and Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian attend a party conference in Yerevan, 3Mar2012.

Businessman Gagik Tsarukian and his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) gave on Wednesday more indications that he will challenge President Serzh Sarkisian in the upcoming presidential election.

Tsarukian said he has already decided how the BHK, which is the country’s second most important parliamentary force, will participate in the election due in February.

“I personally have already made a decision,” he told the Zham.am publication. “But since our electoral legislation allows me not to publicize it [for the time being] I am taking advantage of that possibility.”

The tycoon added that he has been in no rush to clarify his election-related stance also because of “hearing views and proposals of partner parties.”

According to Naira Zohrabian, a top aide to Tsarukian, the long-awaited decision will be announced in the next few days. “The [BHK] Political Council will publicize its decision in the coming days,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We must understand that Gagik Tsarukian’s personal decision is also important,” she said.

Both Zohrabian and another senior BHK figure, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, stressed that the dominant view among the party’s members is that Tsarukian should run for president. Writing on his Facebook page, Oskanian said the possibility of his own presidential candidacy has also been discussed by BHK chapters in recent weeks.

Neither the tycoon nor his close associates specified whether this means that the BHK will not back Sarkisian for reelection and will field its own presidential candidate instead.

Tsarukian and his party have been reluctant to endorse the incumbent president’s reelection plans despite facing strong government pressure over the past year. The BHK underlined that stance when it withdrew from Armenia’s governing coalition in June.
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