The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) accused Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian on Wednesday of unleashing a smear campaign against the opposition party in response to its harsh criticism of the government’s economic policies.
Hrant Markarian, the head of Dashnaktsutyun’s worldwide governing Bureau, said that Sarkisian was behind recent media reports about serious discord within the party.
According to those reports, many Dashnaktsutyun members in Armenia are unhappy with Markarian’s leadership and want to oust him.
Markarian strongly denied any such revolt, while admitting that party activists were disappointed with Dashnaktsutyun’s poor showing in recent major elections. But he insisted that the leadership of the pan-Armenian party has addressed that discontent. He said that Sarkisian spread the “dirty gossips” to retaliate Dashnaktsutyun attacks on his economic record.
“We neither love nor hate the prime minister,” Markarian told RFE/RL’ Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But he is a failed prime minister, and that is why he is using such methods to solve his issues.”
“The prime minister has openly said on a number of occasions that he is declaring war on Dashnaktsutyun,” he said. Sarkisian made such statements to members of his inner circle, he added.
A spokesman for Sarkisian, Harutyun Berberian, dismissed Markarian’s allegations, saying that the premier has never meddled in Dashnaktsutyun’s internal affairs. “The prime minister has always shown a lot of respect for traditional parties, viewing them as a national asset,” Berberian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Dashnaktsutyun was represented in Sarkisian’s cabinet by three ministers from 2008-2009. The party quit the governing coalition in protest against President Serzh Sarkisian’s policy of rapprochement with Turkey. It currently holds five seats in Armenia’s 131-member parliament.