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Kocharian’s Bloc Plans Anti-Government Rally


Armenia - Thousands of opposition supporters led by former President Robert Kocharian (center) and senior members of his Hayastan alliance march to the Yerablur Militarty Pantheon in Yerevan, September 26, 2021.

The main opposition Hayastan alliance said on Friday that it will rally supporters in Yerevan soon in an effort to thwart what it described as more Armenian concessions to Azerbaijan planned by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Senior representatives of the bloc led by former President Robert Kocharian claimed that Pashinian is ready to cede more territory to Baku, including by agreeing to a land corridor between the Nakhichevan exclave and western Azerbaijan passing through Armenia’s Syunik province.

“We believe that what is happening will lead to a new capitulation agreement,” said Ishkhan Saghatelian, a deputy parliament speaker. “Armenia will be making new concessions. In order to prevent that, pan-Armenian forces must form a national resistance front to show the entire world, including this government of evil, that our people disagree with this course and are fighting against it.”

“We need to explain all this to people because [Pashinian] is continuing to fool people [with talk of peace.] After sending people to their death [in Nagorno-Karabakh last fall] he is now intimidating them with [warnings about] another war,” he told reporters.

Armenia - Opposition leader Ishkhan Saghatelian attends a session of the National Assembly after being elected one of its three deputy speakers, Yerevan, August 6, 2021.
Armenia - Opposition leader Ishkhan Saghatelian attends a session of the National Assembly after being elected one of its three deputy speakers, Yerevan, August 6, 2021.

Saghatelian said that Hayastan is now holding consultations with other opposition groups and will announce the date of its rally next week. He would not say whether it will be a one-off protest or the first in a series of anti-government rallies.

Pashinian visited the Armenian parliament on Thursday to meet with deputies representing his Civil Contract party. According to one of those lawmakers, Gagik Melkonian, Pashinian assured them that he is not planning any territorial concessions to Baku.

Melkonian shrugged off the opposition allegations about such concessions, saying that Kocharian’s bloc simply wants to seize power. He said the authorities are not worried about Hayastan protests.

“Their place is the street,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Let them fight on the street. Nobody will be standing by their side.”

Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan's Nor Nork district, June 9, 2021.
Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan's Nor Nork district, June 9, 2021.

Saghatelian confirmed that Pashinian’s removal from power remains on Hayastan’s agenda.

Kocharian, who had ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, likewise said on October 4 that regime change remains his and his political allies’ key goal. But he cautioned that they must “generate” greater popular anger at the government before trying to topple it with street protests.

“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, referring to the ruling political team. He insisted at the same time that a politically active minority of citizens can also pose a serious threat to Pashinian’s hold on power.

Pashinian’s Civil Contract party won Armenia’s June 20 parliamentary elections with almost 54 percent of the vote, according to their official results. Hayastan came in a distant second with 21 percent. Its final election campaign rally in Yerevan drew a massive crowd.

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