Robert Kocharian was a more successful president than his successor Serzh Sarkisian, according to a leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), an opposition alliance highly critical of both men.
“Have you seen a more failed president, if he can be called a president, than Serzh Sarkisian? A person who has nothing to present to the people during his [presidential] election campaign,” Levon Zurabian, the HAK coordinator, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview.
Zurabian argued that Levon Ter-Petrosian, the HAK’s top leader and another ex-president, led Armenia to independence and a military victory over Azerbaijan while Kocharian presided over several consecutive years of double-digit economic growth. “Even that criminal regime [led by Kocharian] had something to show the people,” he said.
“Of course that didn’t work; Ter-Petrosian defeated Serzh Sarkisian in the  elections and [opposition leader] Stepan Demirchian defeated Kocharian in 2003. But Serzh Sarkisian has nothing to present to the people,” claimed Zurabian.
The HAK has harshly criticized both Kocharian and Sarkisian, his longtime former ally, throughout its activities. Ter-Petrosian repeatedly labeled the Kocharian administration as a “kleptocracy” after returning to active politics in late 2007. The HAK has also held Kocharian primarily responsible for the 2008 post-election crackdown on Ter-Petrosian’s opposition movement that left ten people dead.
Zurabian stood by the HAK claims that Kocharian headed a corrupt government and committed “many crimes” while in power.
Still, his remarks did not go down well with some dissident members of the opposition bloc who have resented the HAK leadership’s 2012 overtures to the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), an influential force allegedly linked to Kocharian.
One of them, Petros Makeyan, accused the Ter-Petrosian associate of sending a “positive message” to Kocharian. “This means they are sending direct or indirect messages to Kocharian,” Makeyan told a news conference. He said the remarks highlighted the HAK’s de facto disintegration and the loss of much of its influence.
“I don’t think that Levon Zurabian praised Robert Kocharian,” countered Lyudmila Sargsian, another senior member of the HAK. “He mentioned all the crimes which were committed during those years and of which Robert Kocharian has still not been cleared. There were no messages. There was no justification of Robert Kocharian.”