Ter-Petrosian Steps Up Pressure On Baghdasarian

By Ruzanna Stepanian and Anna Saghabalian

Radio Liberty, Czech Republic
Feb 13 2008

Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian publicly pressed fellow opposition
candidate Artur Baghdasarian to back his presidential bid and claimed
to have strong support within the state apparatus on Wednesday as he
took his election campaign to southeastern Armenia.

The two opposition frontrunners negotiated on the possibility of
joining forces ahead of the February 19 vote but failed to reach
agreement before Saturday’s legal deadline for candidates’ withdrawal
from the race. Baghdasarian indicated on Monday that he might still
urge supporters to vote for Ter-Petrosian while having his name on
the ballot.

"I’m sure that Artur Baghdasarian will also join us," Ter-Petrosian
told a campaign rally in the Vayots Dzor province. He said that will
be part of the ongoing "unification of the entire people" around
his candidacy.

Ter-Petrosian sounded less certain on that score and issued a stark
warning to Baghdasarian as he proceeded to neighboring Syunik region
bordering on Iran. "If [Baghdasarian] stands by the people, he will
become an honorable man," he told voters in the local town of Goris.

"If he doesn’t do that, he will leave the political arena."

The former president was clearly buoyed by Tuesday’s endorsement
of his candidacy by another popular opposition leader, Raffi
Hovannisian. Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun and Baghdasarian’s Orinats
Yerkir are the only opposition parties represented in Armenia’s

Baghdasarian made no public mention of his possible electoral alliance
with Ter-Petrosian as he campaigned in the northeastern Tavush
province on Wednesday. The former parliament speaker instead attacked
President Robert Kocharian and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, saying
that they have turned Armenia into a "country without a future" where
"people live in fear."

Speaking at a rally in the regional capital Ijevan, Baghdasarian also
accused the two men and their cronies of monopolizing lucrative sectors
of the Armenian economy. "Who can now import petrol and diesel fuel
today? Who can import wheat and flour today? A handful of people who
are wealthier than the country," he said.

As was the case during his campaign trips to other parts of the
country, Baghdasarian urged Armenians not to sell their votes. "Those
who vote for money will vote against their children," he said.

Ter-Petrosian, meanwhile, claimed that he is attracting growing support
from government and law-enforcement bodies. "Rest assured that state
bodies are also with us," he told supporters in Vayots Dzor. "At
least 90 percent of the staffs of security bodies, ministries are
with the people."

Ter-Petrosian further claimed that more than 50 employees of the
National Security Service (NSS) have refused to "work against their
own people" in next week’s election and resigned from the former KGB
in recent days. He did not elaborate.

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