By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The pro-presidential majority in the Armenian parliament faced on Monday fresh accusations of intransigence after refusing to debate an opposition bill dealing with Soviet-era cash savings depreciated during the hyperinflation of the early 1990s.
The bill drafted by opposition lawmaker Victor Dallakian calls for partly compensating hundreds of thousands of Armenians that effectively lost their bank accounts at the time. Short on specifics, it would only oblige the government to come up with a legally binding compensation plan
Only 34 members of the 131-strong National Assembly voted for its inclusion on the parliament agenda. Majority leaders said the opposition is politicizing the issue to score points with ordinary people that are still furious with the enormous financial losses suffered by them shortly after the Soviet break-up.
They also pointed to President Robert Kocharian’s decision last week to set up a special government commission that will look into the issue. The parliament majority had already blocked a similar legislative initiative in December after Kocharian’s personal intervention.
Opposition lawmakers, who suspended their year-long boycott of parliament sessions to try to force a debate on Dallakian’s bill, denounced the governing three-party coalition. “All the coalition calls for cooperation with the opposition have turned out to be false,” said Shavarsh Kocharian of the Artarutyun bloc.
The three parties represented in the Armenian government also effectively rejected last week an opposition offer to reach a compromise agreement on reforming Armenia’s controversial constitution. The move meant that the opposition will almost certainly try to have voters reject a package of constitutional amendments which President Kocharian will likely put to a referendum later this year.