The leaders of three leading Armenian opposition parties announced no joint moves on Friday after discussing their possible response to a harsh government campaign unleashed against one of them, Gagik Tsarukian.
Tsarukian met separately with the leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), Levon Ter-Petrosian, and Zharangutyun (Heritage) party leader Raffi Hovannisian the day after President Serzh Sarkisian ordered a crackdown on his extensive business interests and demanded his ouster from the parliament. None of the three opposition leaders jointly campaigning for regime change in Armenia made public statements after those meetings.
“Discussions in this format will continue for one or two more days, after which the trio will present its further actions to the public,” a spokeswoman for Tsarukian, Iveta Tonoyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Tsarukian, Ter-Petrosian and Hovannisian decided to hold a trilateral meeting on Sunday even before Sarkisian moved to effectively drive the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) out of politics. They were expected to discuss renewed anti-government demonstrations in Yerevan and other parts of the country.
The HAK and Zharangutyun shed no light on the opposition trio’s next steps in separate written statements that strongly condemned Sarkisian’s angry speech against Tsarukian delivered on Thursday evening.
“Serzh Sarkisian’s speech is vulnerable in the legal, political and moral senses,” read the HAK statements. Ter-Petrosian’s party accused the president of ordering “political repressions” against one of his principal rivals.
Zharangutyun, for its part, said Sarkisian has no right to lambaste political opponents because he has been the country’s president “as a result of rigged elections.” It also said that he will bear full responsibility for “possible extreme developments in the domestic political life.”
In his speech, Sarkisian also said that he will convene a meeting of his National Security Council to discuss the possibility of launching criminal investigations into allegations about tax evasion and other “crimes” committed by Tsarukian. The presidential body met on Friday evening.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Sarkisian spoke of the “use of suspicious financial resources for political purposes,” saying that it poses a threat to Armenia’s national security. He did not elaborate.
According to Sarkisian’s office, senior government and law-enforcement officials sitting on the council agreed on a “common approach” to addressing the alleged threat. The office did not disclose any concrete measures approved by them.