A deputy chairman of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) deplored on Wednesday former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian’s claim that the country will risk violent unrest unless it undergoes “systemic changes.”
Armen Ashotian said that the claim amounts to “blackmail.”
Ohanian, who was sacked in October, has increasingly criticized the Armenian government since announcing late last year his decision to participate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2. In particular, he has spoken of “growing public distrust of the authorities.”
“If we fail to change the existing vicious system peacefully, by means of elections, then we will be faced with a danger of coups or bloody revolutionary upheavals,” Ohanian warned on January 26.
“I think that speaking a language of blackmail does not testify to one’s political culture and maturity,” Ashotian shot back in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “If he really said that, then it’s blackmail,” he added.
Ashotian said that Armenia cannot afford to again go through the kind of bloody unrest that was caused by a disputed presidential election in 2008. “I think that everyone has learned those lessons,” he said. “Seyran Ohanian should have been the first to learn them.”
Ohanian was the chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff during the March 2008 crackdown on opposition protesters in Yerevan. He was appointed as defense minister shortly after those dramatic events.
Ohanian is now expected to join an election alliance of several opposition parties. One of those parties is led by former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.