Raffi Hovannisian’s opposition movement is being guided by a malevolent religious “sect” and some of its actions could amount to Satanism, a deputy chairman of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) claimed on Monday.
Zohrabian said this is the reason why Hovannisian and his associates are refusing to “calm down” after last month’s presidential election controversially won by Sarkisian.
“I’m starting to believe that some religious sect is behind them. It is provoking and managing them,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on the continuing opposition protests against the official results of the February 18 vote.
Asked to name that cult, Zohrabian said, “I don’t know. They are not operating openly.”
The outspoken politician seemed particularly alarmed by some opposition supporters’ calls for the holding of an alternative “inauguration ceremony” for Hovannisian on April 9, the day when Sarkisian will be sworn in for a second term. “These are the kind of satanic rituals that are linked with sects,” he said. “Under the slogans of liberty, equality and fraternity, they hold some political-religious rituals which I would call satanic.”
Zohrabian has commented on opposition activities as well as Western criticism of the Armenian government in similarly blunt terms in the past. In 2009, for example, he declared that Europe has no moral right to teach Armenia lessons on democracy and human rights because values espoused by it were responsible for World War II-era crimes against humanity.
The HHK vice-chairman was responding at the time to Council of Europe calls for the release of dozens of Armenian opposition members jailed after the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. Zohrabian argued that the deadly unrest was “not as great a tragedy as a world war waged under European values.”
The ruling HHK is currently affiliated with the European People’s Party (EPP), a 40-nation grouping that claims to strive for “a democratic, transparent and efficient Europe that is close to its citizens.”