A senior member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Monday dismissed strong criticism of the country’s government that has been voiced by former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian.
In his latest video message posted on Facebook on Saturday, Ohanian spoke of “growing public distrust of the authorities,” saying that they have failed to uphold the rule of law and address widespread poverty.
“The poverty rate has already surpassed a level dangerous to national security,” he claimed. “Inequality before the law, injustice, widespread bias and the resulting nonstop corruption … are at the heart of all problems.”
Vahram Baghdasarian, who leads the HHK’s parliamentary faction, scoffed at the remarks, saying that Ohanian is attacking a government in which he held a ministerial position for more than eight years.
“I don’t think that individuals who have held the most important state posts for almost 20 years can be radical oppositionists,” Baghdasarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatuyun.am). “The radical opposition takes years, not one day, to emerge and it’s based on an ideology.”
“I don’t think that one can change views and become a politician espousing some political ideas within a week or month,” he said.
In his video address, Ohanian said that he did not speak up during his tenure because he was only in charge of the military. “Bearing responsibility for the area entrusted to me -- the military and our servicemen -- I was not empowered to intervene in the work of other state structures,” he claimed.
Ohanian was dismissed as defense minister in October as part of a government reshuffle initiated by President Sarkisian. He said in December that he will “actively” participate in the parliamentary elections to try to bring about political and economic changes in Armenia.
The retired army general, who had previously served as chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff, looks set to join a new opposition currently formed by former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and several other opposition figures.