Will Armenian authorities become weaker after Hovik Abrahamyan leaves?
Armenia continues to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will be held on April 2. In addition to the formation of an alliance between two former ministers Seyran Ohanyan and Vardan Oskanyan and the decision of ex-leader of the "Prosperous Armenia" Party (PAP) Gagik Tsarukyan to return to politics, there was another very important event.
On January 25 now former vice-chairman, former Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan announced that he leaves the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). This became a surprise even for the republicans themselves. In his statement former Prime Minister told how difficult this decision was and thanked party members for many years of work, but he said nothing about the reasons for this decision and his future political plans. Meanwhile, a day before making the official statement, Abrahamyan said in an interview that he was leaving the RPA, but will stay in politics.
The RPA responded to Abrahamyan's decision to leave the party calmly. "We don't see anything extraordinary in the fact that Hovik Abrahamyan leaves the party," the press secretary of the RPA, vice-speaker of the parliament Eduard Sharmazanov said. According to him, any member of the party has the right to determine his own political future. However, judging by articles in the press controlled by the authorities, it can be assumed that Abrahamyan's decision was a reflection of problems in the party. Most likely Abrahamyan didn't forgive the president for dismissing him on September 8 of last year. Representatives of the party assure that this event won't weaken the party, but the facts are telling otherwise.
Hovik Abrahamyan's influence in the party has always been considered to be the biggest after President Serzh Sargsyan. For many years he held high positions, including the posts of Deputy Prime Minister, speaker of the parliament and Prime Minister. The fact that such influential figure left inflicted considerable damage on the ruling elite.
What's more important is that Abrahamyan headed the election committee of the RPA for 10 years. There were five national elections during this period (parliamentary and presidential elections, and a referendum), and the RPA won all of them.
Some experts believe that Abrahamyan, who is well aware of all shady deals, may become dangerous for the president and the ruling party. Especially if he will move to another party.
It is obvious that it is impossible to create a new political force in a short period of time before the elections. Media don't exclude that Abrahamyan may join Gagik Tsarukyan (Abrahamyan's son is married to one of Tsarukyan's daughters), who expressed a strong desire to participate in the elections. However, this option is very unlikely, because the PAP presents itself as opposition party, and cooperation with former second man of the ruling party can cause serious damage to its image. Perhaps Abrahamyan will assist the PAP, but he will work only behind the scenes.
Former Prime Minister announced his departure from the RPA after his visit to Moscow, where he met Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Never before in the history of the Armenian-Russian relations did Russian Prime Minister hold meeting with former Armenian Prime Minister. "The meeting was held on my initiative. One of our compatriots, who does business in Sochi, faced some practical problems, and I spoke with Russian Prime Minister so that this problem would be resolved in the framework of the law," former Prime Minister of Armenia explained to the media. Few believe this explanation. The topic of their meeting on January 19 remains mystery.
Observers believe such decisive behavior of Abrahamyan can be explained by possible support provided by Russia, and therefore they think there is a possibility of a split within the ruling elite. On the one hand, it's too soon to jump to such conclusions. However, considering Abrahamyan's political weight within the government, the fact that he has a lot of supporters and that he know a lot of dark secrets of the ruling party, his departure can cause nervousness and uncertainty in its ranks ahead of the elections.