The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has not undermined its power-sharing arrangement with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian with its strong criticism of former President Robert Kocharian’s arrest, a senior member of the party insisted on Tuesday.
Dashnaktsutyun said late last month that coup charges levelled against Kocharian “can be interpreted as political persecution.” Accordingly, three of its parliament deputies joined last week more than 40 other lawmakers in signing a joint petition calling for his release.
One of those Dashnaktsutyun deputies, Ruzan Arakelian, said the move was endorsed by the party’s leadership. She downplayed its implications for Dashnaktsutyun’s continued presence in Armenia’s new government.
“This is a very normal political process,” Arakelian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “It does not contradict the fact that we are now part of the [governing] coalition and together with the current authorities are trying to … contribute to Armenia’s progress.”
“I think that this [stance on Kocharian] will not jeopardize the coalition because we do not undermine our agreement with the current authorities in any way,” she said.
Dashnaktsutyun received two ministerial posts in Pashinian’s cabinet formed in May following mass protests that forced the country’s longtime leader, Serzh Sarkisian, to step down. It had cut similar power-sharing deals with Sarkisian in 2008 and 2016.
Dashnaktsutyun, which holds 7 seats in the 105-member National Assembly, was also allied to Kocharian during his 1998-2008 rule. Kocharian lifted a controversial ban on the party’s activities in Armenia and freed its imprisoned leaders shortly after coming to power.
The petition signed by the 46 parliamentarians was sent to Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian and the Court of Appeals.The latter is scheduled to open hearings on Thursday on Kocharian’s appeal against a lower court’s decision to allow his pre-trial arrest on charges stemming from the March 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan. The ex-president has rejected those charges as politically motivated.