Former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian denied on Tuesday any connection between former President Robert Kocharian and his electoral alliance with two opposition parties.
“I probably las met with the second president [of Armenia] at a time when I served in the army as chief of its General Staff [before April 2008,]” Ohanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in an interview. “I think I also met him once two years ago at various events.”
“Our alliance has nothing to do with him,” insisted the retired army general.
The alliance comprises the Hamakhmbum (Consolidation) party of Vartan Oskanian, who served as foreign minister during Kocharian’s 1998-2008 rule and is regarded by some observers as the ex-president’s ally. It is also strongly backed by Samvel Babayan, Nagorno-Karabakh’s former military leader. The latter has had a close rapport with Kocharian in the past.
Kocharian, who is highly critical of Armenia’s current leadership, has not publicly endorsed any of the contenders in the April 2 parliamentary elections. In a March 6 statement, he claimed that the outcome of the elections is likely to be decided by vote buying.
The Ohanian-Raffi-Oskanian alliance has urged other opposition groups to jointly use the upcoming vote for unseating the current government. It said last week that Armenians are fed up with “systemic corruption” and injustice in the country.
Ohanian claimed that he did not speak out against these problems when he served as defense minister for more than eight years because he hoped that “things will get better.” “I never noticed such changes,” he said. “Each year positive things diminished, while negative phenomena increased.”
Armenia’s current defense minister, Vigen Sargsian, chided Ohanian when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Monday. Sargsian suggested that his successor teamed up with opposition forces primarily because he no longer holds a senior government post.
Ohanian said that he refused to take up other “high-ranking positions” offered to him after he was sacked in October. He did not elaborate.