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Three Senior Members Quit Armenia’s Former Ruling Party


Armenia - The ruling Republican Party of Armenia holds a congress in Yerevan, 26Nov2016.

Three senior members of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) have decided to leave it, citing disagreements with the HHK’s top leader, former President Serzh Sarkisian.

One of them, Lernik Aleksanian, on Thursday accused Sarkisian of turning the party into a “trade union” for “criminal-oligarchic” elements and practices.

“The party was invaded by many, many individuals who have nothing to do with the party’s ideology,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian. “They gained major positions within the party.”

Aleksanian is a former parliamentarian, while the two other dissenters, Razmik Martirosian and Firdus Zakarian, used to hold senior government posts. All three men have been members of the HHK’s decision-making Council.

In Aleksanian’s words, they terminated their membership in the HHK on January 13 after trying unsuccessfully to trigger an internal debate on “mistakes” committed by the party. Sarkisian and his inner circle systematically obstructed such a debate despite acknowledging those mistakes, claimed Aleksanian.

He said they have specifically delayed the holding of what would be the first party congress since the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that toppled Sarkisian.

Armenia - Parliament deputy Lernik Aleksanian speaks to RFE/RL in Yerevan, 23Feb2017.
Armenia - Parliament deputy Lernik Aleksanian speaks to RFE/RL in Yerevan, 23Feb2017.

“Good riddance,” HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said when asked to comment on the resignations and Aleksanian’s remarks. He refused to comment further.

Sarkisian provoked the revolution nearly two years ago with his attempt to extend his decade-long rule after transforming Armenia into a parliamentary republic. Massive street protests across the country that broke out in April 2018 were fuelled by widespread popular disaffection with government corruption and cronyism.

Sarkisian as well as some of his relatives and associates were prosecuted on corruption charges after the dramatic regime change. The ex-president went on trial last week. He rejects the accusations leveled against him as politically motivated.

The HHK narrowly failed to clear the 5 percent vote threshold to enter the current Armenian parliament in snap general elections held in December 2018. It remains highly critical of Armenia’s current leadership and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in particular.

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