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Dissenters Defy Armenian Opposition Party


Armenia - Zaruhi Postanjian, an opposition mayoral candidate, campaigns in Yerevan, 8May2017.

Two members of Yerevan’s municipal assembly representing a radical opposition party made clear on Wednesday that they will not resign their seats after being accused by the party leadership of “treason.”

The Yerkir Tsirani party headed by Zaurhi Postanjian, an outspoken opposition politician, won 5 seats in the 65-member city elected on May 14. It decided to take up those seats despite accusing the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) of rigging the municipal elections.

Postanjian and two other Yerkir Tsirani councilors clashed with Yerevan’s Republican Mayor Taron Markarian and his allies at a June 16 session of the council. The two other councilors, Hayk Petrosian and Mnatsakan Parakshiev, kept a low profile during the heated debate.

The party’s leadership accused the two men of “treason” and demanded that they give up their council seats the following day. In a statement, it charged that Petrosian and Parakshiev “deviated from the party line, failed to fulfill their obligations, undermined teamwork, and betrayed the party and the people of Yerevan.”

Another Yerkir Tsirani statement released on Friday condemned their “inactivity” during the June 16 meeting of the council.

The dissenters rejected the accusations at a news conference held earlier in the day. They said they simply favor a different style of political activity.

Armenia - Mnatsakan Parakshiev and Hayk Petrosian, members of Yerevan's municipal council at a news conference, 23 June, 2017.
Armenia - Mnatsakan Parakshiev and Hayk Petrosian, members of Yerevan's municipal council at a news conference, 23 June, 2017.

“We fight against vicious phenomena such as cynicism, arrogance, intolerance and complete absence of a sense of realism,” said Petrosian. “It’s very important that we ourselves do not become like that and that we stay open to pluralism and healthy criticism.”

“Our primary task should have been the implementation of Yerevan’s [development] program,” he added. “But our colleagues sought to add emotional elements to every issue, something which we believe is not productive.”

“In my view, work in the municipality must not be turned into a theatrical performance,” Parakshiev said for his part, referring to his colleagues’ behavior at the council session.

Accordingly, both men said that they will continue to serve in the municipal council as independent members. They also said they have no plans to join another faction or set up their own party.

The ruling HHK holds 46 seats in the council. The remaining 15 seats are controlled by the mainstream opposition Yelk alliance.

Postanjian lambasted Yelk last week, saying that it was created by the Armenian authorities to weaken their genuine political opponents. Davit Khazhakian, the young leader of the Yelk faction in the Yerevan council, shrugged off the allegation.

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