Wednesday, 26 September

When victory equals defeat

On March 6, 2003, the preliminary results of the presidential election were announced. Robert Kocharyan got 67.5 % of the vote, Stepan Demirchyan 32.5 %. Kocharyan is still president of Armenia -- no change of power occurred. Kocharyan is the president of officialdom -- the entire state machinery spared no effort and did all it could to bring to an end the story that evolved around the election. A large number of people participated in mass violations of the electoral code - village administration heads, district mayors, policemen, employees of the National Security Ministry, members of parliament, teachers and we journalists. The people became disillusioned once and for all -- they were powerless. Powerless and pitiful. The electorate was under an information blockade during the run-off election and in the following days. The TV stations under the government’s control simply could not break the rules set by Kocharyan’s headquarters. The daily circulation of all newspapers published in Armenia amounts to 30,000. 30,0000 thousand copies for a population of three million - again almost entirely pro-government.

In 1998 when Kocharyan made a bid to become President of Armenia, I wrote that after his election in Armenia, anti-Karabakh sentiments would arise. In fact there has never been such hatred toward Karabakhtsis as over the last three years. I have met Karbakhtsis in Yerevan who are ashamed to say that they are Karabakhtsis. I myself have always been proud of being a Karabakhtsi. Why did I write that anti-Karabakh sentiments would grow? Because indeed a small group of Karabakhtsis has found itself in a privileged position, both in the economy and in the various circles of the government. But such regionalism has existed under all leaders. We Armenians are a small nation buried under Asian garbage. I am more concerned about the calls by the representatives of some candidates during the last election campaign. They said -- Let’s cleanse Armenia of Karabakhtsis. What was this - a political decision, their version of the solution of the Karabakh problem? And as a matter of fact no candidate ever clearly stated what he would do about Karabakh. Even the most informed candidate - Kocharyan -- doesn’t know how to resolve the Karabakh problem.

All the parties were ready to rush into battle after they got the people’s vote. Robert Kocharyan promised to fight corruption. But how he is going to do that remains unknown. All that mattered was to get elected, and leave the rest for later, as circumstances demand. Our politicians simply do not understand that the law must be the sovereign power in the country, that everyone must be equal before the law. Gagik Tsarukyan will continue go hunting by helicopter and kill deer. Nobody can stop him. Especially the president. A national hero cannot become a traitor after a change of power, and a criminal cannot become a member of government after a change of circumstances. This means that we will continue to crawl around the crossroads of history without worth or and ideas.

Why did Robert Kocharyan lose? There are several reasons worth mentioning as post election advice. Officials who are symbols of corruption for the people stood next to the president during various campaign events. Kocharyan cannot get rid of them because they stood him in good stead. No matter how many votes Kocharyan “received” in the Armavir Marz, the people who live there know that they didn’t cast their votes for Heroyan’s Kocharyan. The people who live in Ararat didn’t cast their votes for Hovik Abrahamyan’s or David Zadoyan’s Kocharyan. Having seen Andranik Manukyan preoccupied only by his hotel and other businesses, the people who live in Yerevan, rest assured, didn’t cast their vote for Manukyan’s Kocharyan. This list goes on until we get to the base of the pyramid.

In fact, nobody has ever told Kocharyan what ordinary people think about his policies or his circle. The people around him have continuously deceived the president. This is the law of the pyramid of power; it was the case during Levon Ter-Petrossyan’s tenure as well. There was no one in Kocharyan’s circle to tell him or, if necessary, to persuade him that he had to condole the family of Poghos Poghossyan, that Kuku should have been strongly punished, that he shouldn’t have closed the A1+ TV station and then played games about reopening it. I am convinced that the people around him said - It’s all correct, they deserve it, you should pressure them. With its clumsy broadcasts, Public Television forced the electors to turn off the programs about Kocharyan. Even people who voted for Kocharyan say so. And the funniest thing was the diametrically opposite statements by the two groups of observers. Here, it just looks like Russian democracy checkmated the West.

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