Talk is cheap!
On Thursday, a spokesman for Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress said the Armenian Revolutionary Federation had no moral right to kick off a campaign for voter rights, claiming that the party has “always stood by those responsible for falsifications.”
This, coming from the entity that invented vote rigging in Armenia, the legacy of which has haunted all elections. The visual is as clear as day: Levon Ter-Petrosian, his then interior minister Vano Siradeghian, who is still wanted by Interpol and other top-level officials, were toasting with champaign their rigged victory in the 1996 presidential elections at the presidential palace. Outside, tanks had rolled onto Yerevan streets, a state of emergency was declared and the real winner of that election, Vazgen Manoukian was barricaded and not allowed entry into the parliament.
The aforementioned incident of course came two years after Levon Ter-Petrosian went on national television on December 28, 1994, and through a decree shut down the ARF and all its affiliates—including publications, publication houses—ransacking and arresting people who had but a marginal affiliation with the party. This “moral” act came on the heels of his other televised address, in June 1994, when he rolled up his sleeves and, through another presidential decree, ousted then ARF Bureau chairman Hrair Maroukhian from Armenia on the eve of the party’s World Congress, which was to be the first to be held in the homeland since Armenia’s independence.
Let’s not forget that it was Ter-Petrosian and his cronies, who pressured by outside entities and foreign interests, were on the verge of selling out Karabakh and were adherents to Paul Goble’s plan of exchanging Lachin for Meghri and put a hasty end to the conflict, which had become a thorn on his side. It was also the same group of “right-minded” leaders who sparked the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Committee, the basis of which have become Turkey’s argument for continuing its denial of the Armenian Genocide.
And now, this group of self-serving anti-nationalist forces has the audacity to preach morality to a population that was so demoralized that it left Armenia by droves. This is the same group, under whose leadership opposition forces were jailed, tortured and, often assassinated, in an effort to clear the arena of obstacles so, without resistance, they could continue looting the national wealth.
When the ARF announced its voter right campaign last week, it was clear in articulating that the movement would be a popular one and would involve every single citizen of the country. This movement aims to empower voters to make educated choices at the ballot box in upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as in all other elections, be they for local governance or regional and territorial leadership.
That is why, the ARF was also vocally opposed last week’s announcement by Armenia’s ruling coalition that they would contest the upcoming votes as one entity and endorse President Serzh Sarkisian’s reelection bid for 2013.
The coalition’s announcement, as well as the Armenian National Congress’ efforts to single itself out as the only opposition force in the country are by nature—and practice—undemocratic and do not, in any way, support or advocate the national aspirations of the Armenian people.
It is important to note, that the ARF campaign is not urging voters to cast their ballots for an ARF candidate or slate, but rather for the voter to be informed enough about his/her choices to make the vote count and not be swayed by bribes or threats that might disengage the population from the process.
Essentially, the ARF campaign aims to crush the very election processes that were instituted by Ter-Petrosian and his criminal gang, and that have unfortunately taken root in Armenian society and its system of governance. To counter that, a popular movement is needed and the ARF aims to unite all forces behind this idea.
No one is buying this “emperor’s new clothes” routine. The Armenian National Congress is the continuation of the same destructive policies and culture of intimidation that was borne out of the Levon Ter-Petrosian regime. Neither he nor any of his followers who parrot his claims have the right to comment on morality or preach democracy. That ship sailed a long time ago.