In case you haven’t been following the latest round of political machinations in Armenia, let me enlighten you. First (well maybe not first, but this is where I’ve decided to begin this story), Vartan Oskanian, Armenia’s foreign minister during Robert Kocharian’s presidency and chair of the Yerevan-based think tank Civilitas Foundation, declared his intention to return to politics. And not just any politics — but to join the ranks of the Prosperous Armenia Party (the junior partner in the country’s ruling coalition).
A little bit of background: It was Kocharian who declared a state of emergency in March 2008 and called in the troops to quash the mass protests against alleged electoral fraud, organized by supporters of unsuccessful presidential candidate, first president of the Republic of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian, and it was Oskanian who stood before the public and defended the actions of this administration. Actions, let me remind you, which international actors have billed “the use of excessive force and violence” and which resulted in the death of 10 people on Mar. 1–2, 2008 —murders, which till today remain unsolved.
And now Oskanian, the founder of a “civil society institution”, is making a comeback, initially deciding to leave it up to the Civilitas Foundation board to “make a decision about his future status.” In the two weeks since he declared his intention to join the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), however, he submitted an official resignation to the board, saying “Armenian law does not mandate such resignation. But I have decided to do so in order that my political activity not restrict Civilitas’ work."
However, as fellow blogger ArtMika points out, no surprises here, right? So how, pray tell, does this translate to the world coming to an end?
Well, there’s more.
The Armenian National Congress (HAK), the extra-parliamentary opposition bloc led by the same Levon Ter-Petrossian mentioned above, has made it clear that it doesn’t rule out cooperating with the BHK. WHAT?!
“If the Prosperous Armenia Party demonstrates in the coming months and on election day that it is really interested in free and fair elections, I think there will be large room for cooperation,” said HAK spokesperson Arman Musinyan at a press conference on Monday.
You mean to tell me the unsuccessful presidential candidate (Ter-Petrossian) whose supporters were essentially attacked in March 2008 is now ready to cooperate with a party associated with the same president (Kocharian) who ordered said attack and who now includes the foreign minister of that administration (Oskanian) who till today not only hasn’t apologized for the actions of those fateful days, but also defends them?
And finally, the icing on the cake, the introduction of a bill on emergency rule, which was passed at its first reading in parliament (though has since been withdrawn and amended, to be voted on again), allowing the president “to turn to the armed forces for help if police and other security forces are unable to enforce emergency rule. In that case, military personnel would be allowed to use riot equipment and live ammunition in accordance with an Armenian law on the police."
In short, as ArtMika puts it: “It is not impossible to suspect that this looks more like preparations for a version of 1-March-part-2.”