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Aravot and Zhamanak Yerevan run reports, that Armenia’s first president, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, has held a series of meetings outside Yerevan. This might signify, what the newspapers consider, Mr. Ter-Petrosyan’s return to politics.
The former president has kept predominantly out of the public eye, after his resignation in 1997. In the run up to this year’s parliamentary elections rumors circulated about his affiliation with the radical Impeachment bloc and his alleged plans to use the bloc for launching a presidency campaign. In the pre-election period some statements came out from the Armenian National Movement (HHSH) that “Levon Ter-Petrosyan is the only alternative to Serge Sargsyan”. This statement, disputable at best, nevertheless points out that the former president’s return to power is still possible in the eyes of some political leaders.
Mr. Ter-Petrosyan is widely associated with the economic hardships suffered by many Armenians during the years of his presidency. Ruling elites afterwards have enjoyed the political gains of comparing their rule with the “dark years” of the early nineties. Additionally, opposition parties and activists are often displayed as affiliated with the former president and his party , which serves well to discredit them.
It is early to conclude whether these reports of Mr. Ter-Petrosyan’s political activity are indeed part of larger move. It is also difficult to imagine him getting any sizable percentage of votes in next year’s presidential elections. HHSH tried to participate in the recent parliamentary elections by forging an alliance with several other opposition parties. It eventually withdrew from the elections when all attempts of an alliance resulted in nothing. It is possible, that Mr. Ter-Petrosyan and HHSH might try to play a role in uniting the opposition this time, something crucially important if anyone is ever to challenge Serge Sargsyan’s bid for presidency in 2008.