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Kocharian Sees Electoral Alliance With Opposition Parties


Russia - Former Armenian Robert Kocharian is interviewed by Russia's First Channel.

Former President Robert Kocharian has said that he will team up with two or three Armenian opposition parties to participate in snap parliamentary elections expected in June.

In an interview with Russia’s leading state-run TV channel aired late on Monday, Kocharian did not name any of those parties. He said only that he will lead the electoral alliance.

Kocharian first announced his intention to contest the anticipated elections in early February. “If the elections are held they will most probably be bipolar,” he said, implying that the political force led by him will be Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s main challenger.

Reports in the Armenian press have said that the Kocharian-led bloc will comprise the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a major opposition party.

A Dashnaktsutyun leader, Ishkhan Saghatelian, on Tuesday declined to confirm or refute those reports. “Dashnaktsutyun has not yet made a final decision [regarding the elections,]” he told reporters when asked to comment on Kocharian’s remarks.

Saghatelian claimed at the same time that Pashinian may still abandon plans to hold the elections in late June. “It’s best to kick out this government of evil before the elections,” he said.

Dashnaktsutyun is a key member of the Homeland Salvation Movement, an opposition alliance which has been holding street protests in a bid to force Pashinian to resign over his handling of last year’s war with Azerbaijan.

Armenia - Dashnaktsutyun leader Ishkhan Saghatelian speaks to journalists, April 6, 2021.
Armenia - Dashnaktsutyun leader Ishkhan Saghatelian speaks to journalists, April 6, 2021.

Speaking to the Russian First Channel, Kocharian again blamed Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the war. He claimed that the Armenian prime minister has “methodically” weakened the armed forces and other state institutions since coming to power in May 2018.

The ex-president, who had ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, also accused Pashinian’s administration of being linked to Western-funded nongovernmental organizations which he said have been trying to undermine Russian-Armenian relations.

Kocharian was arrested in July 2018 on coup charges rejected by him as politically motivated. He was released on bail in June 2020 pending the outcome of his ongoing trial.

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.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed on Tuesday reports that Putin spoke with Kocharian by phone when the latter visited Moscow last week. “As you know, they have long maintained a warm rapport and talk to each other quite often,” Peskov said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

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