Saturday, June 25, 2005

Vazgen Manoukian Calls for "Revolutionary Change" in Armenia

Everybody seems to be talking of revolution in the post-Soviet space and today, in Armenia, a politician and former official who RFE/RL calls "a prominent voice of moderation within the Armenian opposition" has apparently launched what the radio station's web site calls "a blistering attack against the authorities. According to the report, Vazgen Manoukian is calling for “public mobilization” for regime change."

Vazgen Manoukian, Opposition Rally, April 2004, Yerevan, Republic of Armenia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia

Anyway, here's some of what Manoukian had to say:
He described the ruling establishment as a clique of “plunderers” who are “at war” with the rest of the country’s population. “Unless there is a mobilization of our type [of people] who will fight for the future of the country, the country will not change,” he said. “And as the AZhM leader, I set the task of mobilization before the AZhM.”

Asked by one of the delegates whether that means he supports a popular uprising against President Robert Kocharian, Manukian replied: “It depends not only on ourselves. It also depends on the extent of the opposite side’s resistance. If we consolidate, the opposite side will have two options: either to provoke a revolution or retreat. God willing, we will have revolutionary change without a revolution.”
RFE/RL notes that members of pro-government and other opposition parties were in attendance at the NDU Congress and apparently earned the praise of two members of the government coalition, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Orinats Yerkir.
Interestingly, Manukian drew praise from senior representatives of two coalition parties, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Orinats Yerkir, who were present at the AZhM gathering. They both wishes the AZhM success in their speeches. It was not clear if they agreed with Manukian’s assessment of the situation in the country.

Also in attendance were other senior opposition figures, notably Aram Sarkisian of the Hanrapetutyun (Republic). Sarkisian, who leads the most radical opposition group, appeared to agree with Manukian, saying that opposition parties need the backing of other sections of Armenian society in order to succeed.
Also in attendance was the former Karabagh military commander, Samuel Babayan, who RFE/RL says is sympathetic to Manoukian. Incidentally, it's worth pointing out to those readers that don't know that Vazgen Manoukian contested the 1996 Presidential Elections but "lost" in what is considered a falsified vote to then President Levon Ter Petrosian. Since 2003 he has certainly been one of the most interesting of voices in the Armenian opposition.

The full news item can be read online here.

Incidentally, also touched upon in today's is continued progress in the current round of negotiations over Nagorno Karabagh and news that the Armenian government has finally given in to pressure from the Council of Europe and the Armenian opposition to include three key items in proposed constitutional reform scheduled for later this year.

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