Newscafe

ARMENIAN BILLIONAIRE GAGIK TSARUKIAN TAKES THE CHALLENGE

Karen Tovmasyan

"Political actor Gagik Tsarukyan has become a pest for our state, and this is natural. A person who controls mechanism needed for participating in political processes but has low mental ability automatically becomes an obstacle to any development.”-announced president Serzh Sargsyan during his speech in the political council of the ruling Republican party on 12 February, speaking about his former coalition ally, billionaire Gagik Tsarukyan, who leads the second largest political party in the Armenian parliament.

Sargsyan also accused Tsarukyan,  who till that moment was also a member of the National Security Council of Armenia,  for not paying taxes and inventing mechanisms for disclosing his involvement in criminal affairs.

Tsarukyan, who was in the ruling coalition from 2007-2012 left the government soon after the parliamentary elections in 2012, and started close co-operation with the leading opposition parties of the country.

For the last two years Tsarukyan was claiming, that his party is neither pro-government, nor opposition, and isalternative to both, butin March 2014  Tsarukyan's Prosperous Armenia party joined the demand of resignation of the prime-minister Tigran Sargsyan. Later on October Prosperous Armenia together with it's opposition partners Armenian National Congress (ANC) and Heritage parties held a range of rallies in the regions of Armenia and 2 major rallies in the center of Yerevan expressing its opposition to the plan of the constitution change  suggested by the president.

Sargsyan's speech followed after the conference of non-parliamentary opposition parties organized by Tsarukyan, where hecriticized the internal and economic policy of the ruling party saying that the people can't wait for the reforms any long and  if no changes in the coming weeks the people will make the government to resign organizing non-stop rallies and other political demonstrations.

On 13th February Gagik Tsarukyan responded to the accusations of Serj Sargsyan, stating that during the 7 years of presidency the external debt increased with 3 billion dollars, the economy of Armenia became poorer and poorer while the president and his friends increased their business and capital.

Tsarukyan, who even being involved in close ties with the leading opposition forces, in the past was always avoiding to call for the resignation of the president after Sargsyan's speech stated, that he will go to the end until he free the country of the rule of the evil. "Bringing freedom to the country from this evil will be the greatest deal of my life"-he stated, calling for a pan-national mobilization.

Shortly after this statement the same day Tsarukyan meet with the First president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosian (1991-1998), who is the leader of  ANC the main opposition force of the parliament  and the leader of Heritage party Raffi Hovhannisyan to discuss joint actions following to the statement of Sargsyan.

After the meeting both Armenian National Congress and the Heritage party released a statement criticizing speech of Serge Sargsyan, stating, that the statement of Sargsyan is nothing else then blackmail and clear political persecution against his political opponent and that all the responsibility for the future political radical developments lie on the Serge Sargsyan and his ruling Republican party.

Journalist and political commenter Tatul Hakobyan speaking about the speech of Sargsyan says. "I am hopeful that this speech will consolidate the opposition, as this situation is not bearable anymore. This can be the start of a process which may bring change to Armenia, otherwise more people will leave the country, which is very dangerous".

Expert on public relations and electoral technologies Armen Badalyan says."Sargsyan wants to provoke opposition for destructive steps, to have a legal bounds to use force against the opposition as the president has no political resources to oppose to the political steps of the opposition trio"-says Armen Badalyan.

The secretary of ANC, the biggest opposition party of the Parliament Aram Manukyan in his interview to newscafe.ge said, that we have new political situation in the country now.

Commenting on the speech of Sargsyan, Manukyan stated, "The speech was very weak from the political, legal, and moral point of view. Sargsyan using threats and blackmailing was trying to force Tsarukyan to leave politics and continue his business activity, which is a rude violation of constitution, according to which every citizen of Armenia can be involved in politics."

Former foreign minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanian from Prosperous Armenia party  also finds violation of constitution in the speech of Serzh Sargsyan. Oskanian says, "From the beginning to the end this speech was anti-constitutional. The ruling party thinks Armenia is a territory for them where they can do whatever they wish".

The vice-speaker of the Parliament Hermine Nakhdalyan from the ruling Republican party  says the speech coresponding the constitution and international obligations of Armenia.

Nakhdalyan commenting on the question why only now they decided that Tsarukyan may have problems with the law and audits, and why they are starting the investigations this moment, said."The political situation dictates to make steps to solve the problematic questions of the past. And this is the right political moment".

The newly appointed ambassador of US Rick Mills who passed his credentials on 13th February already reacted on the recent political developments of the country during his first press conference. In his speech US ambassador stated, that the US embassy expects that the investigation announced by Serge Sargsyan, will be transparent and argumented in accordance with the laws of Armenia, and that if this investigation call doubts, the embassy will voice about it and report about it to the government.