Opposition leaders Levon Ter-Petrosian and Gagik Tsarukian will not take part in the next anti-government demonstration that will be held by their political parties on Friday, it emerged on Tuesday.
Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK), Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) will rally supporters in Yerevan to mark International Human Rights Day. They will use the occasion to also renew their strong criticism of the Armenian government which they have been jointly challenging.
A spokeswoman for Tsarukian, Ivetta Tonoyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the BHK leader will not address or even attend the protest. She declined to given any reason for the decision.
A senior HAK member, Avetis Avagian, said Ter-Petrosian too will skip the rally. Avagian argued that the HAK leader has usually avoided participating in December 10 demonstrations that have been organized by his party in the past.
By contrast, Hovannisian will be present at Friday’s rally. “If you consider the essence of that event important then you have to attend it,” explained Davit Sanasarian, a senior Zharangutyun figure.
The three parties held a series of nationwide rallies in Armenian regions in September and two big demonstrations in Yerevan in October in an effort to ratchet up pressure on President Serzh Sarkisian. The BHK, which is more influential than its two allies, has since been reluctant to hold more such actions, raising questions about its stated commitment to “regime change.”
The HAK warned last month that the BHK will risk making a “fateful mistake” if it chooses to indefinitely postpone more street protests. Tsarukian’s party dismissed the warning.
Zharangutyun’s Hovannisian said later in November that the three parties still lack a common “full agenda” and urged the opposition them their objectives.