By Shakeh Avoyan
A senior member of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK) who had enraged its leadership by speaking out against Armenia joining the Russia-Belarus union has been expelled from the staunchly pro-Russian group.
Yuri Manukian was earlier removed as head of the Communist organization in Yerevan. The move followed a newspaper interview in which Manukian argued that official Yerevan is right to oppose membership of the union as economic ties with the West are now more vital for the country’s survival.
Yuri Manukian: unrepentant about contradicting party line
HKK leaders said on Wednesday he has been ousted because of his “anti-Communist” and “pro-government” views. But the dissident politician, who was elected to the current parliament from the party slate, rejected the justification, saying that he has fallen victim to his “independent thinking.” He alleged that the Communist leadership is not averse to cooperating with the authorities despite its tough opposition rhetoric.
“I have seen how my detractors deferred to Robert Kocharian and how they curried favors with him,” Manukian told RFE/RL. He said his expulsion is unlawful because he was not given a chance to explain his stance to party activists.
But a secretary of the HKK Central Committee, Razmik Tovmasian, insisted that Manukian’s removal was in line with the Communist statutes. He strongly hinted that the expelled Communist leader was used by the authorities to sow discord and division in the opposition party. “Nobody should expect the Armenian Communist Party to fall apart,” Tovmasian told RFE/RL. “It remains monolithic and has a clear idea of what it should do.”