“If pre-term parliamentary elections take place I will participate in them. I think I have enough experience for that,” Kocharian told Russian media outlets at a news conference in Yerevan.
“Am I confident that I will win? Well, I have never lost elections,” he said, according to the TASS news agency.
Pashinian on Monday again expressed readiness to hold snap parliamentary elections to end a post-war political crisis deepened by the Armenian military’s February 25 demands for his resignation. An alliance of opposition parties holding anti-government rallies in Yerevan wants such polls to be conducted by an interim government to be formed after his resignation.
Kocharian, who is not affiliated with any party, has repeatedly encouraged his supporters to take part in the rallies that resumed on February 20.
“I support the format created by the opposition movement and believe that there is no need to revise it,” he said on Thursday, referring to the alliance called the Homeland Salvation Movement. He again praised Vazgen Manukian, the alliance’s candidate to serve as an interim prime minister.
Like the opposition forces, the ex-president backed the Armenian army’s General Staff in its standoff with Pashinian sparked by last week’s controversial sacking of a senior general.
The army top brass accused the government of misrule and demanded its resignation in an unprecedented statement issued on February 25. Pashinian rejected the demand as an attempt to stage a coup d’etat.
“I don’t think that we should be very afraid of that word [coup,]” another Russian news agency, RBC, quoted Kocharian as saying. “If the military elite feels responsible for the country’s future, one must not rule out steps that could become fateful. But this is my view, not an appeal.”
Kocharian has been at loggerheads with Pashinian’s government ever since it took office in May 2018. He was arrested in July 2018 on coup charges rejected by him as politically motivated.
The ex-president, who had ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, was released on bail in June 2020 pending the outcome of his ongoing trial. The trial resumed on January 19 nearly four months after being effectively interrupted by the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia has criticized the criminal proceedings launched against Kocharian. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made a point of congratulating him on his birthday anniversaries and praising his legacy.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Thursday described Kocharian as “Russia’s great friend.” But he insisted that the Kremlin is not supporting or guiding Kocharian’s political activities in any way.
“Participants of political processes in Armenia do not need to coordinate their steps with the Russian president,” Peskov said, adding that the vast majority of them stand for close ties between the two countries.
Kocharian called for Armenia’s “deeper integration” with Russia after the Karabakh war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10. He said that only Moscow can help Armenia rebuild its armed forces and confront new security challenges
Pashinian announced on New Year’s Eve plans to further deepen the Russian-Armenian relationship, saying that his country now needs “new security guarantees.”