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Opposition Parties Vow Joint Action Against Government


Armenia -- Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian arrives for a court hearing on his pre-trial arrest sought by prosecutors, Yerevan, June 17, 2020.

Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and two other opposition groups have pledged to work together in challenging the government and “restoring the constitutional order” in the country.

Tsarukian, the de facto head of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Ishkhan Saghatelian, and former National Security Service (NSS) Director Artur Vanetsian made the announcement after trilateral talks held on Wednesday.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday, the three men said their parties will set up a “working group” tasked with drawing up a plan of joint actions and coordinating its implementation. The statement gave no details.

Vanetsian, who leads the recently established Hayrenik (Fatherland) party, said that their cooperation is necessitated by the “abnormal” political situation in the country.

“The representatives of our political forces have common concerns over the political situation,” Vanetsian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He noted that he has regularly met with Tsarukian lately.

Armenia -- Former National Security Service Director Artur Vanetsian speaks to journalists outside a court in Yerevan, June 17, 2020.
Armenia -- Former National Security Service Director Artur Vanetsian speaks to journalists outside a court in Yerevan, June 17, 2020.

“There are many proposals and ideas but it will be wrong to talk about them until they are adopted by the governing bodies of the three parties,” Saghatelian said for his part. “We do not rule out the possibility of holding rallies but have made no such decision yet.”

Vanetsian suggested that the BHK, Hayrenik and Dashnaktsutyun will not hold joint anti-government rallies as long as there is a coronavirus-related state of emergency in Armenia.

BHK representatives could not be reached for comment.

Tsarukian’s party, which has the second largest group in the Armenian parliament, reached out to other opposition forces after its wealthy leader was indicted last week on vote buying charges strongly denied by him.

Dashnaktsutyun and Hayrenik have also condemned the charges as politically motivated. Unlike the BHK, they are not represented in the current parliament.

All three parties have called for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation, accusing his government of mishandling the coronavirus crisis and its socioeconomic consequences. They have also strongly condemned government efforts to replace at least three of the nine members of the Constitutional Court. Pashinian’s political allies have dismissed these statements.

Vanetsian was appointed as head of Armenia’s most powerful security agency just days after Pashinian swept to power in the “Velvet Revolution” of April-May 2018. He resigned in September 2019 and subsequently decided to enter active politics.

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