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Ter-Petrosian Associate Warns Other Opposition Groups


Armenia -- Davit Shahnazarian, a leading member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, at a news conference, 6Apr2011.

Armenia -- Davit Shahnazarian, a leading member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, at a news conference, 6Apr2011.

A leading member of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) warned on Wednesday other opposition groups against continuing to attack the alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. Davit Shahnazarian also claimed that the HAK is the only genuine opposition force in Armenia.


“When they try to burn the last bridges with the opposition, namely the HAK, I don’t think they take the right political actions,” he told a news conference. “Such a stance would lead to their marginalization and they would end up in the political archive or in the government camp.”

“But it’s up to them to decide,” Shahnazarian said in remarks primarily addressed to former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

Relations between the HAK and Zharangutyun have deteriorated further since Hovannisian’s two-week hunger strike in Yerevan’s Liberty Square. It began on March 15, two days before Ter-Petrosian rallied thousands of supporters in the square for the first time in three years. The HAK leader controversially shunned Hovannisian as he entered the square.

Hovannisian afterwards accused the ex-president of arrogance and intolerance and suggested that the HAK is ready to cut far-reaching deals with the Armenian government. Ter-Petrosian and his associates dismissed the accusations.

Tensions between the two opposition forces were also stoked this weekend by a statement made by a senior Zharangutyun lawmaker, Stepan Safarian. Writing on Facebook, Safarian said that Ter-Petrosian is also responsible for the deadly 2008 unrest in Yerevan. The Ter-Petrosian camp angrily rebutted the allegation.

Shahnazarian said he thinks that “not all the bridges” between the HAK and Zharangutyun have been burned yet. But he stressed that neither Zharangutyun, nor another major party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), can have any impact on the HAK’s ongoing campaign of antigovernment demonstrations.

Shahnazarian claimed that Ter-Petrosian’s bloc is “the only resource of democracy in the Republic of Armenia,” “Today, the opposition and the HAK are the same things,” he said.

Armenia -- Leader of ARF-DAshnaktsutyun Parliamentary faction Vahan Hovhannistian, Yerevan, 06Apr2011
Vahan Hovannisian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, scoffed at Shahnazarian’s statements later in the day, saying that the HAK itself has been waging smear campaigns against opposition groups refusing to submit to Ter-Petrosian’s leadership.

“I wish that advice had sprung to their mind when they relentlessly mocked Raffi Hovannisian during his civic action,” Hovannisian said. “The HAK has made all kinds of discrediting statements about Raffi. And they now say don’t burn bridges.”

“Davit Shahnazarian should have thought about those bridges when he was the KGB (the Armenian National Security Service) chief and I was kept in the basement prison of the same building [in 1995,]” he added.

Speaking at the Civilitas Foundation, a Yerevan-based think-tank, Hovannisian also claimed that the HAK is far more likely to cooperate with President Serzh Sarkisian than Dashnaktsutyun or Zharangutyun. “Today the HAK has many more similarities with the current authorities than we do,” he said, pointing to their positions on Turkish-Armenian relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
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