Ex-President of Armenia holds final rally with his supporters
The election campaign has ended in Armenia – parliamentary elections will be held in the country on June 20. The final chord of the pre-election race was a rally of thousands of supporters of the opposition Hayastan (Armenia) bloc, whose leader is ex-President of Armenia Robert Kocharian.
This was the last meeting of the bloc’s representatives with his supporters, since June 19 is the “day of silence” on the eve of the elections.
A large-scale rally of the opposition bloc led by the ex-president took place just a day after the rally of its main rival in these elections, the ruling Civil Contract party under the leadership of the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
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Early parliamentary elections in Armenia are aimed at overcoming the crisis that hit the country immediately after the end of the war in Karabakh and Armenia’s defeat. A large number of political forces will participate in the elections – a total of 21 parties and four blocs.
The uniqueness of these elections is that all former presidents of the country and the current acting prime minister are all participating. The main struggle, according to polls, will unfold between ex-President Robert Kocharian and Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power after the Velvet Revolution of 2018.
According to the results of sociological research carried out before the start of the election campaign, the “revolutionary” prime minister was leading with a wide margin ahead of all the other participants. But in a short period of time, the former president managed to practically equalize the rating of his bloc with the indicators of Pashinyan’s party.
Now, according to experts, a situation has developed in the country when the ambitious politician Nikol Pashinyan no longer has a real advantage.
What Kocharyan was talking about
Robert Kocharian did not speak for long and began his speech with a joke. He stated that there is hardly enough pizza in Armenia and in the entire South Caucasus to feed all the people gathered at the Republic Square.
The roots of this joke go back to the post-revolutionary times, when the ex-president was prosecuted, and he spent more than a year in prison. Then a meme about his supporters appeared on social media, which Kocharyan recalled:
“When my supporters gathered in front of the courthouse, they said, they come to eat pizza. I don’t think that there would be enough pizza for all of you in Armenia or in the entire South Caucasus”.
Then Robert Kocharian named four main problems facing Armenia:
- protection and security of the borders of Armenia,
- the future of Nagorno-Karabakh,
- economic crisis,
- internal political tension.
According to the ex-president, “the current authorities are not able to solve these problems, because they themselves have created them”.
A few hours before the rally, Robert Kocharian released a video message in which he spoke about his impressions of meetings with voters over the past month in different regions of Armenia:
“For a long time, for thirteen years now, I have not been your guest, thank you for your hospitality and warm welcome. During these days I shook hands with thousands of people, looked them in the eyes. I do not hide, I tried to understand whether people have changed over the past years. I am happy to note that they have not changed: they are all the same hardworking, they still distinguish between good and evil”.
June 20, according to the ex-president, is a fateful day, as the citizens of Armenia will have to make a choice between “a dignified peace and a humiliating shame”.
“I urge you, let’s rebuild our house, our Armenia. We will establish a long-term peace, heal wounds, perpetuate the memory of our heroes and give meaning to their feat”, Kocharian said.
Charges against ex-president Kocharian
In July 2018, Robert Kocharian was charged with overthrowing the constitutional order in the March 1, 2008, when 10 people were killed during the dispersal of a demonstration of those who did not agree with the results of the presidential elections.
Robert Kocharian was a president at that time, although, according to the Central Election Commission, a new president, Serzh Sargsyan, had already been elected.
After the Velvet revolution in the spring of 2018, the new government of Armenia resumed its investigation into those events, and Kocharyan was one of the first accused.
During this time, the court made several decisions on his arrest and release. As a result, on April 6, a court of Yerevan terminated the criminal prosecution of Kocharian under the article “overthrowing the constitutional order”. On March 26, the Constitutional Court of Armenia declared the charge contradicting two articles of the constitution and invalid.
The ex-president himself and his lawyers have repeatedly announced that the accusation is far-fetched and carries political overtones.
During the 2008 presidential elections Nikol Pashinyan represented the interests of presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan, whose supporters carried out several mass protests. After the events of March 1, Pashinyan himself went underground for a year and four months due to accusations of organizing mass riots. Then he voluntarily appeared in the prosecutor’s office, was arrested and sentenced to seven years. But after one year and 11 months he fell under the amnesty.