YEREVAN—Armenian Revolutionary Federation Parliamentary bloc and Bureau member Vahan Hovanessian visited Raffi Hovannisian on Freedom Square Tuesday to express solidarity with the opposition leader, two days after the latter started a hunger strike.
Vahan Hovanessian had a brief conversation—not audible to journalists—with Raffi Hovannisian, telling journalists surrounding them, “I am not here to see you.”
But when asked what he thought about Raffi Hovannisian’s hunger strike, the ARF leader said, “That, I can tell you. I think this is taking it to an extreme. Everything aside, Mr. Hovannisian has earned a large number of votes. I don’t think all avenues of struggle were exhausted. This is my honest conviction.”
He added, “Of course, I am not here to give lessons or advice; I am here to express my solidarity. But I would have loved to express that solidarity in other arenas, and not here.”
Asked what else Hovannisian could have done, the ARF Bureau member said that his party has answered that question repeatedly.
The ARF argues that regime change can be accomplished gradually, starting with the Yerevan municipal elections in May. Negotiations between opposition parties to form an opposition front in recent days have not yielded concrete results yet.
On March 10, Raffi Hovannisian said during a rally that on April 9, Serzh Sarkisian will be sworn in as president “over my dead body,” adding that he will start a hunger strike on Freedom Square.
“If on April 9, Sarkisian takes his fake oath on the Holy Bible, and if the Catholicos desecrates the Bible and blesses the candidate [Sarkisian] who mocks the people, then that will happen over my dead body,” he had said.
Raffi Hovannisian has since remained on Freedom Square, where several political leaders and thousands of supporters have visited him to express solidarity with the barevolution leader.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hovannisian held a press conference. Regarding his foreign policy priorities, Hovannisian stated that he is against integration into the Eurasian Customs Union. “This does not imply that Armenia should not develop relations with Asian countries and the East,” Hovannisian said. “Such relations should be forged over a different path.”
Reflecting on a proposal made by another opposition figure Aram Sargsyan who suggested that opposition groups in Parliament relinquish their mandates, Hovannisian said that no such necessity will arise if Armenia holds snap parliamentary elections.
Asked about the prospect of Sarkisian visiting him at Liberty Square, Hovannisian declared that he has nothing left to say to Mr. Sarkisian but is willing to “meet and listen to him with respect.”
Meanwhile the Constitutional Court of Armenia continued hearings on the appeal against the official results of Armenia’s February 18 presidential election. The next session will convene tomorrow.
On Wednesday, Heritage Party board Vice-President Armen Martirosyan will hold a press conference at noon, and Raffi Hovannisian will hold a press conference at 5 pm.