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Kocharian, Allies To Hold First Rally


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian meets with supporters in Yerevan, April 26, 2021.

Former President Robert Kocharian and two opposition parties allied to him will hold a rally in Yerevan on Sunday to effectively kick off their parliamentary election campaign.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Resurgent Armenia parties officially announced on Thursday their decisions to form an alliance with Kocharian to jointly participate in early elections expected in June.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, they said the official presentation of their bloc will take place at a Yerevan hotel on Sunday afternoon. It will be followed by a rally at the city’s Liberty Square “dedicated to the event.”

Kocharian last rallied supporters in the square when he first ran for president in 1998. He held rallies in other parts of the Armenian capital during his 2003 reelection campaign.

Ishkhan Saghatelian, the head of Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia, said the upcoming demonstration will be timed to coincide with the 29th anniversary of the capture by Armenian forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha) during the first Armenian-Azerbaijani war of 1991-1994.

“The winners are setting up a victorious alliance and are inviting our citizens to hear about that alliance and its goals on the anniversary of Shushi’s liberation,” Saghatelian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Armenia - Dashnaktsutyun's Ishkhan Saghatelian speaks at an anti-government rally in Yerevan, March 28, 2021.
Armenia - Dashnaktsutyun's Ishkhan Saghatelian speaks at an anti-government rally in Yerevan, March 28, 2021.

The Azerbaijani army recaptured Shushi during the second Karabakh war stopped by a Russian-brokered truce agreement on November 10. The agreement locked in sweeping Azerbaijani territorial gains made during the six-week hostilities.

Kocharian, Dashnaktsutyun and virtually all other opposition groups have blamed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian for the Armenian side’s defeat and demanded his resignation.

Pashinian has rejected the demands while agreeing to hold the snap elections. The current Armenian parliament controlled by his loyalists is expected to take on Monday the final legal step needed for their conduct.

Echoing Kocharian’s statements, Saghatelian said the new electoral alliance led by the ex-president will be the main opposition contender in the unfolding parliamentary race. “Our alliance is the main force in the anti-Nikol camp,” he said.

Saghatelian would not be drawn on why Kocharian and his allies have not cobbled together a more broad-based bloc that would also comprise other opposition forces, notably former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and the Fatherland party led by Artur Vanetsian, the former National Security Service director. The HHK and Fatherland have decided to set up a separate bloc.

“I have no reason to doubt … that the aim of that [HHK-Fatherland] alliance is also Armenia without Nikol,” said the Dashnaktsutyun leader. “We just found it expedient to go down this path.”

Both Kocharian and Sarkisian turned down this week a cooperation offer made by Levon Ter-Petrosian, another former president who has long been at loggerheads with them. Ter-Petrosian said an electoral alliance led by the three ex-presidents would be well placed to oust Pashinian.

Saghatelian said his party is also opposed to joining forces with Ter-Petrosian. “I can’t imagine any situation where Dashnaktsutyun and … Levon Ter-Petrosian are part of the same bloc because we have profound ideological differences,” he said.

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