A former ruling party that led Armenia to independence and was incorporated into Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK) earlier this year was formally revived by his former political allies over the weekend.
The Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), which governed the country from 1990-1998, played the central role in the Ter-Petrosian-led alliance’s transformation into a single political party. The HHSh changed its name to HAK at a congress in February.
That development was denounced by several veteran HHSh figures who fell out with the ex-president after his unsuccessful 2008 bid to return to power. Four of them -- Alexander Arzumanian, Ararat Zurabian, Karapet Rubinian and Hovannes Igitian -- announced the launch of a process of the HHSh’s “re-registration” with the Justice Ministry last spring.
The process was essentially completed at the founding congress of the new HHSh held in Yerevan on Saturday. It was attended by 200 delegates, virtually all of them party members that quit Ter-Petrosian’s bloc.
“Nobody can shut down the HHSh in Armenia,” Arzumanian said in his opening speech at the congress. He again challenged the legality of the party’s takeover by Ter-Petrosian’s entourage.
The congress was also attended by the leaders of three other opposition parties that used to be aligned in the HAK. One of them, Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party leader Aram Sarkisian, called for a consolidation of these and other like-mined opposition groups.
“God willing, a new [opposition] bloc will be formed in the future,” the HHSh’s Zurabian said in that regard.
The HAK splinter groups as well as Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage), whose two senior members also attended the weekend gathering, share strong opposition to Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led customs union. Arzumanian described President Serzh Sarkisian’s recent decision to join union and resulting developments as a grave threat to Armenia’s independence.
“Today the Russian [military] boot is again hanging over the Armenian people, and we must think about how to again save Armenia,” declared the former foreign minister.
By contrast, Ter-Petrosian’s HAK has pointedly refrained from objecting to Armenian entry into the customs union. Ter-Petrosian last month warned supporters against deploring Russian pressure on the Armenian government and, in particular, using phrases like “the Russian boot.”