By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The first secretary of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK), Vladimir Darpinian, faced veiled criticism from his party's newspaper on Tuesday in a sign of fresh tensions brewing in the ranks.
In a front-page commentary signed by editor-in-chief Norik Petrosian, the newspaper "Hayastani Komunist" deplored the absence of a strong leadership that would be able to return the Communists to power and restore state control of the Armenian economy. Petrosian, who is a member of the parliament and the HKK's governing Bureau, also said that the Communists should avoid close cooperation with other opposition forces.
The comments were dismissed by one of Darpinian's close associates, parliament deputy Frunze Kharatian. "I don't agree with these statements by Norik Petrosian," Kharatian told RFE/RL. The Communists alone can not improve the situation in the country even if they win back power, according to him.
"Every sensible person should think that way. It's wrong to think that sensible and sound persons are only in our party," Kharatian said. "And it's not the right moment to solve ideological issues," he added, referring to Petrosian's hardline Marxist rhetoric.
The rare public disagreement among Communist leaders is seen as part of a broader discontent with Darpinian inside the hitherto extremely disciplined HKK.
One of its senior members, Vanya Mkhitarian, accused its leadership on Tuesday of appropriating party funds. Mkhitarian made the accusations after being removed as head of the party's Oversight Commission.
Darpinian has already quelled a similar revolt last year, expelling a group of senior Communists that stood for cooperation with the authorities. They have formed a new organization named the Renewed Communist Party of Armenia.