YEREVAN (A.W.)—ARF Bureau member Vahan Hovanessian visited Raffi Hovannisian in Freedom Square to express solidarity with the opposition leader, two days after the latter started a hunger strike.
Vahan Hovanessian had a brief conversation—not audible to journalists—with Hovannisian, telling journalists surrounding them, “I am not here to see you.”
But when asked what he thought about Hovannisian’s hunger strike, the ARF leader said, “That, I can tell you. I think this is taking it to an extreme. Everything aside, Mr. Hovannisian has earned a large number of votes. I don’t think all avenues of struggle were exhausted. This is my honest conviction.”
He added, “Of course, I am not here to give lessons or advice. I am here to express my solidarity. But I would have loved to express that solidarity in other arenas, and not here.”
Asked what else Hovannisian could have done, the ARF Bureau member said that his party has answered that question repeatedly.
The ARF argues that regime change can be accomplished gradually, starting with the Yerevan municipal elections in May. Negotiations between opposition parties to form an opposition front in recent days have not yet yielded concrete results.
On March 10, Raffi Hovannisian said during a rally that on April 9, Serge Sarkisian will be sworn in as president “over my dead body,” adding that he would start a hunger strike in Freedom Square.
“If on April 9, Sarkisian takes his fake oath on the Holy Bible, and if the Catholicos desecrates the Bible and blesses the candidate [Sarkisian] who mocks the people, then that will happen over my dead body,” he had said.
Raffi Hovannisian has since remained in Freedom Square. Several political leaders and thousands of supporters have visited the square to express solidarity with the “Barevolution” leader.