A Kremlin-friendly businessman leading the largest Armenian community organization in Russia on Monday voiced support for President Serzh Sarkisian’s plans to win a second term in office in an upcoming presidential election.
Ara Abrahamian said the governing body of his Moscow-based World Armenian Congress (WAC) officially endorsed Sarkisian’s reelection at a weekend meeting in Yerevan.
“We have no other [presidential] candidates yet. Nobody has nominated [their candidacy,]” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) during a WAC congress in Yerevan.
Asked whether he and his group have considered backing an opposition candidate, Abrahamian said, “You can’t become president in two months. You need a serious preparation for becoming president.”
The tycoon added that the WAC decided to endorse the incumbent president in recognition of his policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, pursuit of greater international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide and efforts to bolster Armenia’s ties with its worldwide Diaspora. He admitted that many Armenians are dissatisfied with their government’s socioeconomic track record but said Sarkisian does not have a “magic wand” to rapidly improve their plight.
Incidentally, Sarkisian attended and delivered a speech at the WAC congress on Monday. He again stressed the Diaspora’s importance to the country.
The WAC was set up in 2003 as an offshoot of Abrahamian’s Union of Armenians of Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin personally attended the WAP’s founding congress in Moscow to indicate his support for the Armenian-born tycoon’s attempt to create a global pan-Armenian structure.
The Armenian government’s reaction to the initiative was less than enthusiastic, with then President Robert Kocharian openly expressing misgivings about the idea of putting all major Diaspora communities under a single umbrella structure. Leading Armenian organizations in the United States and Western Europe have also viewed the WAC with suspicion.
Abrahamian announced on Monday that the WAC has decided to move its headquarters from Moscow to Yerevan in order to end Diaspora allegations that the group is furthering the Kremlin’s agenda.