Despite promising to clarify his political future last month, businessman Gagik Tsarukian has still not said whether he will resume his political activities and participate in Armenia’s upcoming parliamentary elections.
The founder of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) pledged to make a statement to that effect “in the coming days” when he addressed in early December hundreds of supporters who rallied outside his hilltop villa to call for his return to active politics.
A spokeswoman for Tsarukian, Iveta Tonoyan, said on Thursday that the tycoon, who also heads the Armenian National Olympic Committee, has delayed the move “because of his busyness.” “The end of the year was very busy,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It was an Olympic year and there were many events and programs that had to be completed by the end of the year.”
“As Gagik Tsarukian has said, he will certainly make a statement soon,” Tonoyan said. She would not give any dates or say whether he has already made a decision on his political comeback.
Vahe Enfiajian, a senior BHK representative, also declined to speak of any time frames for the keenly anticipated announcement that could have a serious impact on the outcome of the parliamentary elections slated for April 2.
Tsarukian was forced to resign as BHK chairman and retire from politics in early 2015 after unsuccessfully attempting to scuttle President Serzh Sarkisian’s controversial constitutional reform together with other, established opposition groups.
Sarkisian and Tsarukian publicly traded insults during their bitter row. But they apparently made peace after Tsarukian’s exit, with Sarkisian repeatedly attending the inauguration of new businesses set up by the tycoon.
Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian and Gagik Tsarukian attend an awards ceremony organized by the Armenian National Olympic Committee just outside Yerevan, 27Dec2016.
The BHK’s current leaders began campaigning in October for the party founder’s return to the political arena. They indicated in early December that he will likely heed their appeals.
Some veteran opposition figures claim that Tsarukian’s comeback is part of a secret deal with Sarkisian’s aimed at diverting many votes from genuine opposition parties to the BHK founder in the elections. BHK representatives have denied these claims, saying that their party will remain in opposition to Sarkisian if it is again headed by Tsarukian
Tsarukian refrained from criticizing the government when he visited Gyumri later in December. He said instead that Armenians should “unite” to cope with economic and security challenges facing their country.
The BHK finished second in Armenia’s last two parliamentary elections. The party joined Sarkisian’s coalition government formed in 2008 but pulled out of it in 2012.