Representatives of Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) will attend on Saturday a major opposition rally that will be held in Yerevan on the sixth of anniversary of a bloody post-election unrest.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), an opposition party led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, will rally supporters in the city’s Liberty Square to remember ten people killed in vicious clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces on March 1-2, 2008. The HAK is also expected to announce the start of a new campaign of street protests against President Serzh Sarkisian.
BHK spokesman Tigran Urikhanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Tsarukian’s political allies will be present at the rally in keeping with the party’s policy of always being “with the people.” Urikhanian also made clear that the BHK regards the HAK as a “partner.”
Tsarukian’s party was a junior partner in Armenia’s governing coalition during the disputed February 2008 presidential election in which Ter-Petrosian was the main opposition candidate. It effectively justified the use of deadly force against Ter-Petrosian supporters protesting against the alleged falsification of vote results.
Nevertheless, in recent years Ter-Petrosian has strongly advocated close cooperation with the BHK, saying that it is essential for toppling Sarkisian. This strategy has been resented by other opposition groups and figures pointing to Tsarukian’s reputedly close ties to Robert Kocharian, Sarkisian’s predecessor who presided over the March 2008 crackdown.
The HAK leadership insists that Tsarukian and his party are not Kocharian’s support base. It says that the BHK’s withdrawal from Sarkisian’s coalition government in 2012 vindicated Ter-Petrosian’s strategy.
Saturday’s rally will be the HAK’s first major anti-government action since 2012. Some Ter-Petrosian loyalists hope that the charismatic ex-president will launch a new campaign of sustained protests that will end in Sarkisian’s resignation.
“I think the speech [by Ter-Petrosian] will contain proposals on getting out of this situation,” said Aram Manukian, a senior HAK figure. But Manukian refused to be drawn on the opposition party’s further actions.