Businessman Gagik Tsarukian will officially set up on Sunday his electoral alliance that will comprise the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and four other, smaller groups, one of their representatives revealed on Friday.
Arman Vartanian, a member of a pro-Tsarukian movement called Miasnutyun (Unity), said the leaders of Miasnutyun, the BHK, and the three other parties will sign a corresponding declaration.
One of those parties, the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), claims to be the legal successor to a same-name party that led Armenia to independence in 1991. It is headed by veteran politicians who used to be close associates of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. They fell out with Ter-Petrosian in 2010-2012.
Tsarukian announced his return to politics on January 17 nearly two years after resigning as leader of the BHK under strong government pressure. He said he will run for parliament at the head of a new electoral bloc.
The BHK, which was founded by Tsarukian, claims to be in opposition to President Serzh Sarkisian. The tycoon has avoided publicly criticizing the government in recent months, however.
Vartanian said that the bloc will strive for “positive change” in the country but did not elaborate on its political agenda. “Gagik Tsarukian will be the linchpin [of the bloc,]” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But we can also say that this an ideological, not personalized, alliance.”
Vartanian confirmed that the bloc will be named after Tsarukian. He said the tycoon was advised by his allies to choose that name “so that every person, including in the most remote villages, understands that this alliance is headed by Gagik Tsarukian.”
Tsarukian deplored the socioeconomic situation in Armenia when he announced his return to politics in a televised speech. But he stopped short of blaming the government for it, fueling more media speculation that his comeback is part of a secret deal with President Serzh Sarkisian aimed at diverting many votes from genuine opposition forces in the April 2 parliamentary elections.
Both the BHK and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia have dismissed the speculation.
The BHK finished second in Armenia’s last two parliamentary elections. The party joined Sarkisian’s coalition government formed in 2008 but pulled out of it in 2012.