By Armen Zakarian
The leader of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), Stepan Demirchian, said on Monday that the center-left opposition party should step up its contacts with Armenian communities abroad and consider opening branches there.
Demirchian, fresh from a one-week trip to Russia and the United States, said his party should “work seriously” with Diaspora Armenians who he said would like to see HZhK branches opening in their communities. “There is such a desire both in the US and Russia,” he told RFE/RL in an interview.
Demirchian, who inherited HZhK leadership from his father Karen killed in the October 1999 attack on the parliament, added that steps in that direction should not contradict Armenian law which bans parties from receiving funding from abroad. The restriction is widely believed to be flouted by those Armenian parties that have Diaspora structures.
Demirchian’s visit to the US included meetings in New York and Boston with representatives of local Armenian organizations. The HZhK leader gave no details of the meetings, saying only that they were “productive and important.” He sharply denied reports by pro-government media that the main purpose of the trip was to raise funds for the HZhK, which is increasingly in opposition to President Robert Kocharian. “Some people hate the Demirchian family so much that they are now in a disturbed state of mind and are capable of everything,” he said.
Demirchian claimed that the Armenian-Americans are seriously concerned about the scale of corruption in Armenia and the ongoing trial of parliament attackers. “There too people are outraged that the trial has dragged on with no end in sight,” he said.