"Clan Fight": Analysts See PAP-RPA Standoff As Oligarchic Showdown

By Gayane Abrahamyan

Politics | 07.12.12 | 16:52

The confrontation between Armenia’s two major political forces has
shifted to mutual accusations baring the existing contradictions and
implying that Gagik Tsarukyan’s nomination for presidential candidacy
is an almost unavoidable prospect. Experts say, however, that this
is rather a “clan war” than a political battle and the outcome will
be dictated by external forces.

Prosperous Armenia party (PAP) leader Tsarukyan’s European “adventures”
have heightened the tensions springing from what’s becoming fierce
domestic political fight.

Tsarukyan’s visit to Brussels where he voiced sharp criticism against
president Serzh Sargsyan’s administration, saying there should be
no expectation of curtailing corruption in Armenia so long as the
country itself was led by corrupt authorities, coincided with one of
the European Parliament’s major political forces, European People’s
Party (EPP) leaders’ summit in Yerevan.

PAP was not represented at the summit, as exactly a year ago EPP
admitted three Armenian parties – the ruling Republicans (RPA), Rule
of Law (Orinats Yerkir) and oppositional Heritage, but rejected PAP’s
membership request.

Mostly known for his pro-Russian positions, Tsarukyan’s visit
to Brussels was a demarche against this very summit. The visit
has deepened the split between RPA and PAP so much that Republican
speaker Eduard Sharmazanov not only qualified Tsarukyan’s comments as
“shameful”, but called PAP “an artificial force”, “populist”, reminded
him of the risks and accused of ambitions “to usurp the power”.

“PAP, according to our European counterparts, is not leading a battle
on ideological grounds or platforms, but one that is aimed at usurping
the power,” Sharmazanov said in his interview to RFL/RE.

It is exactly with charges of “attempts to usurp power” that the
defendants in the Case of Seven – leading oppositional figures former
MP Sasun Mikayelyan, former foreign minister Alexander Arzumanyan
and others – got convicted in 2008.

This seemingly superficial use of the same term, most probably done
as a reminder, might become crucial in RPA-PAP negotiations which,
as Edgar Vardanyan, expert at Armenian Center for National and
International Studies (ACNIS) says, are more like a “clan showdown”.

Vardanyan says political terminology is alien to the domestic political
field of Armenia, and gangland terminology is more befitting, because
the main political parties here are “clans” rather than parties.

“To apply the term ‘political party’ in reference to our main ruling
forces, means to legitimize clans, because they serve the interests
of certain clans. Hence we are not dealing with a political fight,
but inter-clan showdown,” he told ArmeniaNow.

According to the expert, one of the “clans” of the oligarchic
regime is formed “around Serzh Sargsyan or he is viewed as its
formal representative, and the other one is around Tsarukyan, who
is its official representative. We all know that there is another –
informal – representative [Robert Kocharyan].”

Vardanyan believes that the procrastination in this “showdown” aimed at
centralizing the resources, suggests interference of external forces.

“If the two clans were functioning on their own, there won’t be
any serious, grounded reason not to come to an agreement and this
time-dragging that is past any logical deadlines clearly points to
pressure from the outside,” he said.

“It is quite possible that Russia doesn’t fully trust the incumbent
president, and unwilling to put all its eggs in one basket, intends to
strengthen the second oligarchic team, so that both are most interested
in serving the Kremlin to solicit its support,” says Vardanyan.

The idea of external pressure is shared also by Armen Badalyan,
expert in political technologies, who believes that “the outcome of
these elections will not be determined inside Armenia”.

Following this logic the issue of Tsarukyan’s candidacy for presidency
becomes irrelevant, because, as political analyst Vardanyan says,
“whatever decision is made it will be after acquiring certain

“If until now the existing conflict has not been an imitation, the
further fight will be ‘coordinated’, since it is impossible to hold
elections without prior agreement with the other powerful clan, and in
a clan-ruled environment it is impossible to be an opposition and at
the same time preserve all the resources and stay part of oligarchy,”
he says.

And while European structures welcome the competition between the
major forces in the election process, the true picture behind it,
as Vardanyan says, contains “not a single element of democratization,
just as no state interest can be detected in the activities of various
mafia groupings.”


You may also like