A senior member of Raffi Hovannisian’s opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) on Friday did not rule out the possibility of forming an electoral alliance with former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.
Armen Martirosian, Zharangutyun’s deputy chairman, said he and Hovannisian believe that their party will stand a better chance of achieving regime change if it joins forces with other opposition groups ahead of the April 2 parliamentary elections. He said they have already held consultations with potential allies.
Martirosian did not exclude that Zharangutyun will team up with Oskanian and Ohanian. Oskanian said last month he met with Hovannisian and Ohanian recently.
In Martirosian’s words, Zharangutyun’s governing board will make a final decision on the possible election bloc in the next few days.
At least one board member, Zaruhi Postanjian, has publicly spoken out against teaming up with Oskanian and Ohanian.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Wednesday, Postanjian said both men were involved in former President Robert Kocharian’s deadly post-election crackdown in 2008 on opposition protesters. She said Zharangutyun should cooperate with them only if they admit their responsibility for the bloodshed and agree to “appear before the court after the elections.”
Oskanian served as foreign minister, while Ohanian was the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff at the time. Ohanian was tasked with enforcing a state of emergency which was declared in Yerevan following vicious clashes between security forces and opposition protesters.
Oskanian made a special televised statement in the presidential palace in Yerevan on March 1, 2008 just hours before eight supporters of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian and two police personnel were killed in the violence. He warned Ter-Petrosian to end the street protests against the alleged rigging of a presidential election.
Martirosian argued that Oskanian did not personally order the use of lethal forces against thousands of protesters who barricaded themselves in downtown Yerevan. He also defended Ohanian, saying that the former defense minister is a decorated veteran of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. He said this fact makes him hope that “Ohanian too is concerned about the situation in the country.”
Ohanian was sacked in October as part of a government reshuffle initiated by President Serzh Sarkisian. He said in December that he will “actively” participate in the upcoming elections in a bid to bring about political and economic changes in Armenia.