Armenian deputy speaker says opposition plans coup

Armenian deputy speaker says opposition plans coup

Golos Armenii, Yerevan
8 Apr 04

The Armenian opposition is planning a coup rather than a revolution,
the deputy chairman of the National Assembly, Vaan Ovanesyan, has said
in a phone-in. Opposition calls could affect unstable minds of their
supporters, which might result in confrontation with the police and
street riots, Ovanesyan said. Even if the president resigns, the weak
opposition will not be able to hold fair and transparent elections,
and “hostile and dull masses” will decide Armenian people’s fate, the
deputy speaker said. The following is the text of Lana Mshetsyan and
Tigran Mirzoyan report by Armenian newspaper Golos Armenii on 8 April
headlined “The opposition is preparing not for a revolution but a
mutiny”; subheadings inserted editorially:

Opposition plans coup

[Armen Manvelyan, teacher] Are you not frightened of provocations from
both sides during the demonstration of the Justice bloc and the
National Unity Party [on 9 April]?

[Vaan Ovanesyan] I am more worried than frightened. Calls to go to the
end and not to be frightened of “red liquid” [blood] and other
provocative calls have always been voiced from the opposition
side. Such calls might have an effect on unstable minds of some
opposition supporters, and naturally their behaviour might lead to the
counteraction of the law-enforcement agencies. But today it is
difficult to say if the opposition will go too far.

[Marina Samvelyan, sociologist] Do you agree that today’s opposition
is financially supported by external forces? If yes, what are those

[Ovanesyan] I do not rule out such a case. Certainly, I would not call
this direct bribery or recruiting. It is no secret that in the modern
world, in the developing countries the activity of different
international sources always involves financing of public and often
political organizations. In spite of the fact that this is forbidden
by the law, an unstable border between a grant and direct financing of
anti-government activities allows sponsors to break the law. The
situation in Georgia is a graphic example.

[Ara Israelyan, pensioner] Does it not seem to you paradoxical that
the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – Dashnaktsutyun [ARFD] is
categorically against a revolution being prepared by the opposition?

[Ovanesyan] The opposition is preparing not for a revolution but a
mutiny, a coup. A revolution is a long process in all spheres of
society, including the mentality of people. What opposition is
planning is street riots which might shake the foundation of our
statehood, no more.

Let us suppose that the president of Armenia will tender his
resignation. Where is that force which will be able to ensure fair
and transparent elections within 40 days? Neither part of the power
pyramid nor weak opposition, which has not chosen its leader, can
regulate those processes. Hostile and dull masses, supplied with
money, will find themselves at the helm of our fate.

[Suren Magakyan, student] Do you think that the law-enforcement
agencies, police in particular, are able to take relevant measures to
prevent provocation which is quite possible during mass rallies?

[Ovanesyan] They can and must do that.

Strengthening factor for coalition

[Evgenia Akopyan, biologist] Do you agree with [head of the Republican
Party faction] Galust Saakyan that attacks by the radicals on the
authorities have become a strengthening factor in relations among the
coalition parties? Do you think that today this is the only factor?

[Ovanesyan] No, I do not think so. I think that concerns about the
future of the country called forth the setting up and strengthening of
the coalition. After the parliamentary elections, in which violations
were registered, it was clear that some movement was needed to
consolidate society. We tried to embody the idea of that movement in
the coalition. It is developing in several directions: anti-corruption
fight, strengthening of the economic potential of the country and
settlement of social problems. It is natural that these parties
[members of the coalition government] have different approaches to all
these problems, which leads to arguments and sometimes to
conflicts. In this sense I can agree with Galust Saakyan, simply
aggressive behaviour of some part of the opposition is dangerous for

[Passage omitted: question about discussions of water supply document
in parliament]

Charges of treason dropped

[Rafael Ayrapetyan, pensioner] You were convicted of “betrayal of
motherland” at one time. I wonder if the Supreme Court has acquitted
you. If yes, were those who issued the libellous verdict punished? If
you were not acquitted, on what grounds were you nominated to be
elected to the parliament and to the post of deputy chairman of the
National Assembly?

[Ovanesyan] To be honest, I am fed up with this question. I am often
asked it. I am repeating once again that I was not convicted of
“betrayal of motherland”. The preliminary conviction really had such
an accusation, but later it was dropped, and we were convicted of
making calls for an armed revolt. The verdict became invalid as the
authorities were replaced in Armenia. The case was dropped, for this
reason today we are not considered as convicted. By the way, even if
we were considered convicted, we have the right to be nominated as
candidates for parliament elections. I would like to add that
[Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly’s standing commission for
foreign relation] Armen Rustamyan and I were several times suggested
that the case be revised and consigned to the scrapheap of the
judicial annals. But we did not agree, because we are proud of what we
were fighting for.

[Passage omitted: question about returning of deposits]

[Oganes Ovsepyan, artist] Do you think that the Armenian Pan-National
Movement is behind many acts of provocation against our state,
including a revolution foreseen in April?

[Ovanesyan] Yes, I do.

Armenia lacks national idea

[Larisa Yagubyan, philologist] Why did the ARFD not take actions to
ensure the unity of ideology?

[Ovanesyan] The “unity of ideology” is somewhat an obscure idea to
me. The ARFD is a decentralized organization with a unified
ideology. I think it is nonsense to gain ideological unity with any
other parties. In all probability, you mean ideological unity in
society, which is impossible in a healthy and free society. But we are
not North Korea. As for a national idea, it should exist. In this
sense Armenia lags behind.

Our ideological disputes within society are not around the ways of
reaching the national ideal, but around the ideal itself. This is
really dangerous, as in stable societies all the layers, all the
political movements, parties and ideologies have a general national
model of development, that is an ideal. There are concepts of national
security and national development almost in all the countries of the
world. These concepts are in embryo in Armenia and have not been
completely defined. For this reason, we can have absolutely different
viewpoints even concerning the Budapest murder [of an Armenian officer
by an Azerbaijani serviceman].

Some people strongly condemn it and say that defects of Azerbaijani
society have given rise to Armenophobia, others condemn those who
condemn [the murder] and say that the feelings of the Azerbaijani
nation must not be insulted. It turns out that one can take an axe,
but one must not insult the feelings of a neighbouring nation.