Citing a nationwide shock caused by the massacre in Gyumri, Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) cancelled on Tuesday a conference that was due to clarify the future of its anti-government campaign conducted jointly with opposition allies.
The BHK announced late last month that Tsarukian will gather representatives of leading Armenian political and civic groups to discuss the “difficult political and economic situation” in the country and map out their “next steps.”
The gathering was postponed indefinitely moments before it was due to start at a hotel complex owned by the tycoon. “Just like the rest of the country, we are struck by grief and pain and are going to take part in today’s remembrance ceremonies,” explained BHK spokesman Tigran Urikhanian.
“I don’t think that it is appropriate to organize any other event at the moment for very obvious reasons,” Urikhanian told reporters, speaking one day after the death of 6-month-old Seryozha Avetisian, the seventh victim of the Gyumri massacre blamed on a Russian soldier.
The BHK as well as the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun parties held a series of anti-government rallies in September and October with the stated aim of achieving “regime change.” The three parties, which control around one-third of the Armenian parliament seats, subsequently avoided ratcheting up the pressure on President Serzh Sarkisian apparently because of a cautious line taken by the BHK.
The HAK, which is led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, warned Tsarukian in November that the BHK will risk making a “fateful mistake” if it chooses to indefinitely postpone such protests.
In a further sign of friction between the two parties, the HAK made clear earlier this month that its representatives will not take part in Tsarukian’s conference. It said it is cooperating with the BHK only within bilateral and trilateral frameworks. A spokeswoman for Tsarukian downplayed the snub last week.