By Edmond Y. Azadian
Since March 1, 2008, Armenia’s political atmosphere has been extremely polarized because of the unfair election and the confrontation between the police and the opposition forces, which claimed 10 casualties.
The main opposition coalition, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), headed by former President Levon Ter- Petrosian, organized regular political rallies, with the participation of large masses. Many unemployed citizens, joined by former government officials, religiously attended these rallies; the starving populace was fed on Ter-Petrosian’s rhetoric.
No president, nor any public official thus far, has been able to upstage Ter-Petrosian’s oratorical skills. The former president was able to captivate his audience through his articulate and carefully-crafted speeches, in which his demands were sky high. His common refrain was to “dismantle” the “kleptocracy” and force early parliamentary elections.
Another former president, Robert Kocharian, had provided enough ammunition to the opposition to rally around. Emulating his master in Moscow, former President Vladimir Putin, who had elected his hand-picked successor to replace him at the end of the constitutionally-mandated term of absence, President Kocharian had decided to install a vulnerable lame duck administration to make his comeback possible.
Between Serge Sargisian’s election and his inauguration, Kocharian staged an armed confrontation with the opposition, which had camped in the Liberty Square, next to the opera, where most of the killings took place. Kocharian knew he should wait out the confrontation, to wear down the opposition and come to a peaceful outcome. But he opted for the violent solution, whose victims became a powerful weapon in the hands of the opposition.