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Kocharian Cautious About Anti-Government Protests


Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian speaks at a news conference, Yerevan, October 4, 2021.

Former President Robert Kocharian said on Monday that Armenia’s main opposition alliance led by him needs to “generate” greater popular anger at the government before trying to topple it with street protests.

“Yes, we are going to also launch a street campaign,” he told a news conference. “But conditions should be made ripe. We must also work with the people all over Armenia. We must try to convince them.

“You cannot launch a street campaign without the active involvement of the people. That active involvement should also be achieved by public relations efforts.”

Kocharian was therefore careful not to set any dates for renewed anti-government demonstrations promised by his Hayastan bloc.

Kocharian told senior members of the bloc to intensify its activities and public outreach efforts at a meeting held on September 14. One of them said afterwards that “street actions” against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government are imminent.

“The biggest problem is that a considerable part of our people has come to terms with this situation and voted for these ones,” Kocharian said on Monday, referring to Pashinian’s political team. “Let’s not deceive ourselves. This is the reality.”

The 67-year-old ex-president, who had ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, insisted at the same time that a politically active minority of citizens can also pose a serious threat to Pashinian’s hold on power.

“Even if five percent of the population fights against a government with determination, no government can withstand that,” he said.

Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.
Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.

“Twenty-one percent of voters voted for us. We will try to first and foremost make that segment more active. We will try to also convince other people, who voted for these authorities, in that they made a mistake,” added Kocharian.

Pashinian’s Civil Contract party won Armenia’s June 20 parliamentary elections with almost 54 percent of the vote, according to their official results. Kocharian’s bloc came in a distant second.

Kocharian, who pulled a massive crowd in Yerevan during the election campaign, again predicted that another snap election will likely be held before the end of 2022. He also repeated opposition claims that Pashinian mishandled last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh and is not capable of dealing post-war security challenges still facing Armenia.

Kocharian further claimed that Armenia’s defeat in the war was not only the result of Pashinian’s incompetence but also a “possible pre-planned defeat” agreed with Azerbaijan. “There will be no calm in our country until these suspicions are dispelled,” he said.

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