A prominent opposition politician announced on Wednesday plans to form a new union of Armenian veterans of the Nagorno-Karabakh war which he said will strive to bring down the government.
“I want to consolidate all freedom fighters in Armenia,” Sasun Mikaelian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “We did a great job during the war and cannot put up with the existing situation.”
“During all these years they have managed to divide us to cling to power. But we now want to close the ranks and have a say,” he said.
Mikaelian, who commanded a volunteer unit during the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan, was a leading member of the Yerkrapah Union, the main veterans’ organization loyal to the authorities, until backing former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s 2008 bid to return to power. He was among dozens of Ter-Petrosian loyalists arrested following the March 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan. He spent more than three years in prison on charges which he rejected as politically motivated.
Like several other well-known oppositionists such as Nikol Pashinian, Mikaelian fell out with Ter-Petrosian in 2012, strongly objecting to the opposition leader’s political strategy. He became last month a senior member of a new opposition group set up by Pashinian.
Mikaelian did not specify whether he will now seek to coopt Yerkrapah Union members unhappy with the government. Nor was it clear just how he plans to use his new structure in taking on the “illegal authorities.”
Mikaelian said that he is counting on the backing of hundreds of war veterans who held a series of demonstrations in Yerevan last year to demand pension rises. The main organizer of those protests, retired Colonel Volodya Avetisian, was arrested and prosecuted on controversial charges in September.