Tsarukyan’s Silence


Vestnik Kavkaza
Dec 10 2012

Author: Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan, exclusively to VK

The main intrigue in the political life of Armenia remains the question
of the nomination of the leader of the “Prosperous Armenia” Party
(PAP), Gagik Tsarukyan, as a candidate for president. About three
weeks ago, Tsarukyan said: “These important decisions are not made
at the last minute and without any preparation. I’ve already made a
decision. Another issue is that the electoral law allows me not to
announce my decision. I will use this right.”

Sources close to the PAP claim that the long-awaited declaration will
be made after the congress of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia
(RPA), on December 15. The position of Tsarukyan, who clearly does
not want to make specific statements, caused nervousness in the
domestic political field. Government experts and representatives of
the Republican Party are vying to claim the support of the PAP for
incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan in the upcoming February 2013
presidential election, an unequivocal victory for Sargsyan and even
the inexpediency of Tsarukyan’s participation in the elections. The
chairman of the Christian Democratic Union, an MP from the Republican
Party Khosrov Harutyunyan, for example, advised the leader of the
PAP to do party building and not to be a candidate for president.

The director of the Armenian branch of the CIS Institute, Alexander
Markarov, is in no doubt that the current president will win in the
upcoming election: “The results of the parliamentary elections provide
a basis for the assumption of the victory of Serzh Sargsyan.” The
former Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh, Arman Melikyan, said “the
power system has two distinct poles, and one of them is an artificial
one. So no matter what the PAP is doing – it will contribute to the
continued existence of the system of government, and therefore the PAP
itself. The latter in any case will support the incumbent president,
no matter whether it will promote its candidate or not.”

The media have also contributed to the overall atmosphere of
nervousness. The site “168.am” wrote that the silence of Tsarukyan
made Sargsyan nervous, and he gave the PAP leader two days to make
a statement. A number of other state-controlled media are actually
blackmailing Tsarukyan and hint that some facts from his distant youth
will be published, and this may adversely affect his image. Meanwhile,
sources close to the PAP spread information that, if such blackmail
continues, the PAP will make counter publications, the impact of
which will be much greater. These publications will not deal with
the personal life of Sargsyan but with some fragments of his work
in 1990-1994. The electronic publication “Zham.am”, controlled by
the PAP, indicated that some of the publications “may shock Armenian
society if the public know how and with whom Sargsyan collaborated
during this period.”

The overall tone of many of the statements suggests that the upcoming
competition will be very tough and will take place between Gagik
Tsarukyan and Serzh Sargsyan. “The election campaign is under way,
though it has not officially begun. Today two issues are the most
interesting: whether Tsarukyan will run, and in the case of his
participation, how actively he would conduct his campaign in order to
really compete with Serzh Sargsyan,” the director of the “Caucasus”
Institute Alexander Iskandaryan said.

Some of Tsarukyan’s weird behavior can be explained by natural
processes in the political field. There is a clearly-visible
convergence of views on the most important issues between the radical
opposition – the Armenian National Congress (ANC) – and the PAP. Both
these forces have voted against the draft law on the State Budget
for 2013. The PAP has supported a number of initiatives by the ANC,
including the project of forming a new parliamentary commission
studying the events of March 1, the initiative to apply to the
Constitutional Court about the boycott by the parliamentary majority
of the extraordinary session of the National Assembly on November 21,
initiated by the ANC. At that meeting, in order to improve electoral
processes the ANC planned to present a number of important amendments
to the Electoral Code, the Criminal Code and the law “On the State

Now there are consultations between the ANC, the PAP, the ARFD and
other opposition parties, like”Heritage” and the “Free Democrats”. The
head of the central office of the ANC, Levon Zurabyan, said that the
second stage of political consultations is beginning, during which
issues related to the format of the party in the elections will be
discussed, including the specific nominations for president. The ANC
candidate will be Armenia’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan. Two
years ago, during one of the rallies, he said that he would run as
a candidate for the presidential election if the second president,
Robert Kocharyan, also runs. However, there are no signs yet that he
will participate in the election, so it is possible that Ter-Petrosyan
also will not do so.

With this in mind, the ANC can support another candidate. Alexander
Iskandaryan believes that the ANC will support the candidature of
Tsarukyan. With the participation of the ANC in the elections, this
power can only get a small percentage of votes. “In the parliamentary
elections the ANC won 7%, and in the presidential elections this 7%
definitely will not turn into 50%,” the analyst said.

Naturally, the ANC will support the PAP leader on certain political
conditions that may be related to ensuring that Tsarukyan is ready
to make fundamental changes in the extremely difficult political and
socio-economic situation in the country. Perhaps the ANC and its leader
will help Tsarukyan, who has more support in a number of regions, to
conquer the capital. Most likely, the ANC will influence the voters
in Yerevan who do not consider themselves supporters of Tsarukyan.