One year after announcing his decision to start political activities in Armenia, the Kremlin-backed head of Russia’s largest Armenian Diaspora organization said on Tuesday that he will not participate in next year’s Armenian parliamentary elections.
Ara Abrahamian cited health reasons, saying that he has to undergo medical treatment abroad for several more months.
A wealthy businessman born in Armenia but based in Moscow, Abrahamian first revealed his political ambitions in October 2015 as he marked the 15th anniversary of his Union of Armenians of Russia. He said he will most probably set up a political party of his own to contest the elections slated for April 2017.
“It’s time to return to Armenia,” the 59-year-old entrepreneur told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) at the time.
The announcement fueled Armenian media speculation that President Serzh Sarkisian wants to use Abrahamian as a false opposition force that will “steal” many votes from his established political opponents. Some commentators in Yerevan also suggested that Moscow is keen to set up a new support base in Armenia.
Abrahamian cited his “health issues” when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service in July. But he insisted that he is still working on the launch of “our movement” in Armenia. “I’m thinking about new mechanisms for participating in the elections,” he said.
Despite being an Armenian citizen, the tycoon is not eligible to run for Armenia’s parliament because he is not a permanent resident of the country.
Abrahamian announced his decision to steer clear of the April 2017 vote at a news conference in Yerevan. He said he might only endorse an Armenian party that will present a “good program” to voters. He declined to specify which parties can count on his backing.