Hetq recently spoke with presidential candidate Andreas Ghoukasyan, now into his 20th day of a hunger strike. The candidate complains that the press is more concerned with covering his health issues rather than the issues behind the strike itself.
You started this hunger strike, now in its 20th day, at the outset of your political campaign. Should we regard it as a type of campaigning?
I can’t prevent you from seeing it like that, but I declared a hunger strike because I found it unacceptable to participate in a campaign in which a candidate from a political party that violates the constitution is also running. Another reason is that this presidential race is meaningless. The participation of such a political party in the upcoming election, from the start, has turned the election into an illegal scam. I’ve protested against this from day one, when that candidate registered his name and I will continue with this political-legal line. This is why I have refused to participate in the campaign.
Are you staging the hunger strike as a citizen, opposing the authorities, or as a politician?
I am doing it as both, as someone in the election race whose aim is to win.
It isn’t possible to win in an artificial election. This election isn’t real. Society doesn’t decide its political future through such elections given that there is a large segment that votes under conditions of pressure or directed by other interests. Thus, the first task of a politician is to create such political conditions guaranteeing the public its right to a free ballot. That’s what I’m involved in now.
What essential principle of the constitution has been violated in this case?
It is clear that the Republican Party is handing out election bribes, in essence, organizing a large-scale crime. It’s a criminal violation to hand out election brines and is punishable by five years imprisonment. You can also get two years in jail for accepting such a bribe. Thus, any political force that employs such methods in the electoral process is violating the constitution and is subject to dissolution according to the constitution and other laws on the books.
Here, I would like to ask you the following. Do you actually dispute the fact that the Republican Party is handing out bribes? It’s incontrovertible fact and the public at large knows it to be the case as well. In addition, our constitution permits a political organization overseeing a majority in the parliament and its member as president to nominate and confirm any candidate to any political office in the land.
Consequently, there is no counter-balance to such a party. It appoints the management of law enforcement; it confirms the appointment of judges. In a word, such a party enjoys a state monopoly and naturally, it unconstitutional actions go unpunished. Law enforcement in Armenia doesn’t serve the public but rather the political forces that appointed them.
Experience has shown that those in power stay in power by using the same methods. Given this, how do you rate your chances to resist those powers?
I rate my chances pretty high. What are you getting at? Are you implying that the actions of the traditional opposition are a more effective means of resistance?
No, experience has proven that their methods haven’t been effective as well.
We have seen that the opposition is a tool that supports the establishment of the regime in Armenia.
For the first time in Armenia, the right of a political party that has violated the constitution is being questioned. Everyone knows that party in unconstitutional and a patron of corruption. I began my protest because I am challenging the right of that party to participate in the election.
You aren’t in the race because you see it as meaningless?
Which race? I won’t run in a contrived election. It’s not a race but a staged event if you ask me. A true race has to posit a demand and show the public where this party has derived its illegitimacy from.
In the given state of affairs there can be no objective discourse. Just look at what’s happened. I’ve been on hunger strike for twenty days and the media is merely covering my health. No one is discussing the issues I have raised.
Despite my failing health, I have given numerous interviews and have explained the reasons for my hunger strike at length. But the internet TV outlets have provided a filtered down version of the information to the masses. From this I can only infer that the regime is frightened if such information is disseminated and that my hunger strike is pricking their soft spots.
So, doesn’t all the above prove that your actions have been effective and that your initial objective has been achieved?
Of course, especially if they view it as a campaign that they were obligated to cover equally.
So, the media has been covering the strike chronologically, but in terms of substance?
Of course not. If the media was covering the other campaigns in the same manner as they are my hunger strike, then none of the other candidates’ campaigns would be covered.
I’d like to add that the recent report of the election monitors disappoints me because it also attempts to cover up the question about the participation of an anti-constitutional party in the election. The monitors should have been held to account for this and to provide an explanation.