Monday, 24 September

In Anticipation of Robert Kocharyan’s Decision

 Jockeying for position within Armenia’s ruling elite and flare-ups on the political front will continue as long as Robert Kocharyan, the second president, has not decided between coming out of “retirement” into big politics or sticking to his business projects along with his beloved hunting.

If Kocharyan decides to make a comeback, then he will do so through the BHK (Prosperous Armenia Party) and ARF (Armenian Revolutionary Federation). Meanwhile, it is possible, that some smaller parties will join in. The formation of a new force cannot be ruled out. It is apparent that certain individuals are getting ready to form such a force.

They are waiting for Kocharyan’s order. The PAP and ARF are not equivalent forces. The ARF resigned from the coalition, but it continues to carry traces of government influence on its shoulders and it apparently has no desire to make a clean break. In the case of the PAP, the situation is different. It has a serious reputation to protect and if becomes the target of   repression the PAP’s popularity will rise. Despite press reports to the contrary, in reality the PAP has not yet been targeted in such fashion.

Republican Party member Hovik Abrahamyan has not yet joined the PAP, although he is Gagik Tsarukyan’s in-law. The same can be said about Tsarukyan’s other in-law, Armenia’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Andranik Manoukyan. Generally speaking, in Armenia, ones party affiliation means little. Can anybody say who is really pulling the strings of Harutyun Kushkyan, Armenia’s Minister of Health and a PAP member?

Is he Gagik Tsarukyan’s man or is he in Serzh Sargsyan’s pocket?  If Koushkyan had to make a choice, whom would he side with? People who know Koushkyan are convinced that stands with Serzh Sargsyan. Everyone knows that Republican Party MP Karen Tchshmarityan, no matter how much he acts like Republican, still belongs to Robert Kocharyan’s team. Upcoming elections are going to be tough going for the majority of the deputies. It is true that during previous “rat races”, MP’s were able to jump from one team to another at the right moment.  

But Serzh Sargsyan has set double traps to make it easier to catch them. These MP’s have committed so many “sins” in accumulating their wealth that even 100 years wouldn’t be enough time for them to scrape the dirt off. This time the playing field is too narrow, and there is no room to maneuver. This will be the main characteristic of the game’s new rules - the ability to rapidly maneuver on the narrow playing field. This will be quite difficult to do since R. Kocharyan is delaying his decision. It can fundamentally change   Armenia’s political landscape. It will be difficult to predict the outcome, if the pre-election phase ends up with the same three previous presidential candidates. It is also difficult for Kocharyan to make the decision to return, since he has to go up against the person who supported him for ten years. Kocharyan and his clique are involved in various business projects.

However, as strange as it may seem, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan have no mutual business interests. For Kocharyan, the decision to return to politics would primarily mean endangering his main business projects. But it also would give him the opportunity to multiply them. Of course, the Russian factor will also be decisive. What are the positions of Dimitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin? 

Whom do they want to see as the president of Armenia in 2012? This remains an unknown since we can’t even predict the name of the next Russian president. The saddest part is, when it comes to these considerations, the people’s factor is not considered.  This is true not only of Armenia but all authoritarian countries.

Translated by Norick Markosian

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