“There is only one way to ensure the security of our people: Russia, our centuries-old ally and friend. It has always demonstrated that it stands with us on any issue,” Tsarukian said at a campaign rally held in the provincial capital Gavar.
“We must now reinforce this friendly relationship not only with words but also real actions. Armenian and Russian soldiers must now stand on our borders side by side so that people feel safe,” he told supporters.
Tsarukian also spoke of a “very severe situation” in Armenia, saying that many of its citizens lack decent jobs and access to free healthcare. The BHK leader, who is one of the country’s richest men, reiterated his pledges to use his business connections to attract large-scale investments in the Armenian economy if his party manages to return to government.
“Tsarukian is an established, affluent and renowned man who has seen a lot,” he said. “Tsarukian’s main aim is to help every person realize his potential to the benefit of his country and people.”
The BHK, which maintains regular contacts with Russia’s ruling party, finished a distant second in the last parliamentary elections held in December 2018, winning 8.3 percent of the vote.
Tsarukian insisted late last month that he will not strike any power-sharing agreements with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian as a result of the upcoming vote slated for June 20. He again ruled out such a possibility on Monday during the official launch of the BHK’s election campaign.
The tycoon noted on Tuesday that he was “the first” to demand Pashinian’s resignation and accuse the premier of incompetence and misrule in June 2020.
Shortly after that criticism Tsarukian was controversially prosecuted on what he sees as politically motivated charges. He was arrested in September but freed on bail almost one month later.
Like other opposition groups, the BHK blamed Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh and demanded that he step down. It joined a coalition of opposition parties that staged street protests in a bid topple the prime minister.