BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
First it was so-called Christian values that prevented Levon Ter-Petrosian from visiting Raffi Hovannisian when he was staging a hunger strike and now whoever criticizes his self-centered Armenian National Congress is doomed to wind up in the political nadir.
“It’s up to them to decide,” declared one of Ter-Petrosian’s minions, Davit Shahnazarian on Wednesday when he warned those who criticize Ter-Petrosian and his Armenian National Congress, and “burn the last bridges” will become marginalized and “would end up in the political archive or in the government camp.”
I have addressed Ter-Petrosian’s sudden adherence to Christian values in a previous column, but to go as far as to say he’s the only game in town and those who do not play in his sandbox are doomed to failure only signals that despite what he would like the people to believe, he is still the same power-hungry megalomaniac who ruled Armenia for seven years after independence.
Back then, whoever disagreed with him was banished to the far reaches, or even expelled from Armenia. Since he does not have that power now, he, cowardly, through his spokespeople, is ordering all to oblivion.
Perhaps the best response to this latest banter came from Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary bloc leader Vahan Hovannesian, who, first hand, has experienced the wrath of Ter-Petrosian and his demagoguery.
“Davit Shahnazarian should have thought about those bridges when he was the KGB chief and I was kept in the basement prison of the same building [in 1995,]” said Hovannesian, who also cited Ter-Petrosian’s irrational behavior vis-à-vis Raffi Hovannisian during his hunger strike.
Coming a day ahead of a planned Armenian National Congress rally, this declaration is an indication that perhaps the movement itself feels marginalized and has no other choice but to join forces with the ruling coalition, the criticism against which has become softer and more muted in recent weeks.
After all they are all cut from the same cloth!
Perhaps, this behavior comes from the Soviet tradition of rallying behind a person rather than an ideology, which in other instances drive people to act.
During the two-plus years that Ter-Petrosian has crowned himself the leader of the Armenian National Congress, there has not been one concrete action that demonstrates that he is fighting for the rights of the people. Rhetoric is one thing, but actions speak louder than words.
When the Armenian police allowed demonstrators to gather at Liberty Square last month, Ter-Petrosian declared it his victory and acted like Jesus had entered Jerusalem. He and his followers seemed to have forgotten that the ban imposed by the government was against people gathering at the square.
In his speeches, he always says that if “his” demands aren’t met, “he” will resort to some kind of a drastic measure, which we have yet to see.
It’s no wonder that his followers were quick to come to his rescue, when a Heritage Party leader this week said Ter-Petrosian was responsible for the March 1 deaths, since he had the power to quell the unrest, yet he chose to retire to his residence while the angry masses clashed with police.
History will brand him as the first president of the newly independent Armenia. It will judge him for the stain he brought to Armenia by initiating the current culture of pillaging the national wealth and disregard toward dissent and opposing points of view. He will be remembered for rushing to a hasty resolution to the Karabakh conflict and for forsaking all principles in the name of establishing relations with Turkey. He will also be forever responsible for embracing, perpetuating and encouraging the criminal underworld that has taken root in Armenia, some of whose most notorious players are still wanted by international law enforcement agencies.
It would behoove Ter-Petrosian to get off his high horse and actually acquaint himself with the needs of the population before claiming to be its representative and voice.