"Heritage" Spamming Its Way Into Presidential Elections

As it has been noted earlier on several occasions on this blog, the leader of the opposition Heritage party, Former Foreign Minister of Armenia Raffi Hovhannisyan, has been applying for Armenian citizenship since 1991, however, it was only granted to him in 2001 by President Robert Kocharyan. According to Article 50 of the Armenian Constitution, in order to be eligible to run for president the candidates must be older then thirty five, and must have been citizen of the Republic of Armenia for the preceding ten years, having permanently resided in the Republic for the preceding ten years. Hence, at the moment Raffi hovhannisyan is not eligible to run for president, despite the fact, that Heritage party led by him is one of two opposition factions represented in Parliament and Raffi Hovhannisyan is the opposition figure with highest rating among population according to a recent survey by British ComRes organization.
Many people received an email today from Info Heritage containing MS Word and PDF attachments sent by the Heritage Party. The English translation of the attachments is posted on the E-channel.am information portal, here are some extracts:

Since the proclamation of the Republic of Armenia, Raffi Hovhannisyan has numerously applied for obtaining citizenship of Republic of Armenia. At the same time, he is the first foreign minister of newly-independent Armenia that has served our country with love, decency and loyalty during the years of holding that position and after that.
Raffi Hovhannisyan’s long-term civil aspiration finally turned into reality by Kocharyan’s decree. However, not from 1991 but from 2001.
Today the RA president has the authority to recover justice and create an equal competitive situation that will have vital significance in the political area of the Republic of Armenia.

This attempt to establish Raffi Hovhannisyan’s right to run for President comes as yet another proof, that the Armenian opposition is far from accepting the First President Levon Ter-Petorossian as the sole leader of opposition forces as noted by the Armenia Election Monitor 2008 blog.
Interestingly, although I support the Heritage cause of gaining citizenship status for its leader from 1991 and thus making him eligible to run for the 2008 Presidential elections (that is one of the reasons why I’m posting this here), I have to note, that this is not the first time I am receiving unsolicited bulk e-mail (SPAM) from the Heritage party. Sending SPAM is illegal in many countries, perhaps it is also illegal in Armenia, and I’d like to warn Heritage, that they are getting dangerously close to irritating people, which, I’m sure is the last thing in their mind when sending these messages.

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Heh!
    I can agree with you – Raffi has the right to apply to become a candidate for presidency.
    It is my own point of view, and I do not know how does this opinion correspond with current legislation.
    But this situation is a kind of deadlock – if Raffi will be allowed to run for presidency, or not – there will be a lot of jurks that will create a big show and media events on this.
    Most interesting thing is, that a lot of people (I’m one of them actually 🙂 ) have the same approach – we reckon, that there may be exclusions from a law. And sometimes put our personal opinion higher than law.
    I don’t know is it good or not – but it is a reality.
    And perhaps this point is the root of all our troubles – not only the political ones.

  2. I’ve actually raised this issue personally with them although they are not the only ones doing such things. Asparez in Gyumri, for example do the same thing, and Armenians in Javakhketi are even worse going as far as to ignore repeated requests for them to stop.
    However, I have told Heritage that I won’t accept emails with attachments. Basically, I don’t read them, and yes, it’s about time they and others had an opt-in subscription service. I’m also against them and the Javakheti Armenians attaching images to their emails.
    As a result, I set my server preferences not to download any message over 15 or so Kbytes and delete them instead of reading them. However, I would like them to sort their act out rather than for me to have work in a different manner so that I can be free of unsolicited mail from the likes of Heritage and Gyumri-based NGOs (2 are currently spamming me).

  3. Uzogh – I totally agree that the root of all our problems is allowing for exclusions from the law (did I understand you right). And – it is indeed a surprise for me to hear you say, that you support the situation, when something is put “above law”!

  4. I disagree with you both. In fact, the law MUST be adhered to, and in fact, that is what Hovannisian is demanding or rather, because repeated applications for citizenship were turned down for no legitimate and therefore legal reason, his citizenship can be re-evaluated if it is ruled that the procedure to award citizenship was violated. Basically, we are talking about correcting a wrong which currently prevents him from running and yes, the law and the courts can be used to this aim arguing that previous rejected applications were in breach of the law.

  5. You understand me correctly.
    Do you know – there are a lot of situations where I (I do not want to generalize on others) do strange things, that I will never commit if I let me think for a moment. Call it habit, Khaysyat, or something else.
    I never cross the street violating red sign when I’m abroad. And I never pay the attention on red or green sign, when I’m crossing the street in Armenia.
    It’s all the same with Raffi. I’m pretty sure, that he have the right to be a citizen of Armenia. I’m pretty sure, that there was something wrong with denial to give him armenian citizenship at the first attempt.
    But right now I’m not sure what will be the correct solution from the authorities: to accept previous mistakes and count his citizenship from 1991, or not to accept the mistakes and do not grant him the ability to run for president.
    Exclusion from law very often have cascading effect – I mean, that if you have violated excluded one from law once – you have to exclude him on a perpetual basis.
    And yes, I’m in cognitive dissonance on this issue. One part of my brain clearly understands, that Raffi has the right to run for president. And the other understands, that he has not.
    And I do not know what shall I do, if that decision must be taken by me.

  6. 2 Onnik
    IMHO your solution is the best, among possibles, but it can raise a lot of criticism.

  7. Uzogh – I’m somehow sure, there won’t be any criticisms. I mean – who would criticize the decision to grant Raffi citizenship from 1991?
    The authorities? Hardly – at this points it is in their interests to make sure there are as many opposition candidates as possible in order to split the vote. And they’ll surely take care, that the forces under their control remain peaceful.
    Opposition? Well – if LTP and co. try to criticize, there’s a lot Raffi can remind them about, including the fact, that LTP denied Raffi the chance to be citizen on multiple occasions. That will be exactly the type of conversation that LTP will try to avoid, because it will bring up the issue of LTP’s pro-Turkish orientation in the past, and that’s hardly something he needs at this point. Coming to Orinats Yerkir – they seem to go along well with Heritage in the parliament, so it’s not in their interests.
    Others? Those would be the voices that I can’t consider SERIOUS!

  8. Ohhhh…..
    I see 3 main directions:
    1. LTP and his witnesses – for “trying to steal their voices”
    2. “Traditional opposition” – for “pre-election” decision
    3. Observers – for “changing the rules for candidates”

  9. Well – I guess the LTP and co. could get really frustrated. As to the Observers – hey, I am the Armenian Observer, and I don’t mind :))))))

  10. […] backdated enough to allow him to run for president next year. However, the blog raises concerns at the use of spamming techniques by his Heritage party to do so. Share […]

  11. Why doesn’t he sue the Armenian government? I would rather do that than go beg Kocharian.

  12. I think it’s definitely a case for the courts, but anyway.
    Still, I’m sure the timing and political implications are also relevant. I mean, Hovannisian’s candidacy would definitely split the opposition vote on the one hand, but on the other, I’m sure Baghdasarian and Ter Petrosian will be keen to offer him something for his support.
    Indeed, assuming that he won’t again be allowed to run, it will be interesting to see where his support will be directed. It might even influence who gets through to the second round which I think will happen — Baghdasarian, Ter Petrosian, or the Dashnak candidate.
    Sorry to say that while many people respect Vazgen Manukian for his intellect, most seem to consider him a spent force. Kind of ironic given that another of the main candidates comes from that time period too. Still, let’s wait and see.

  13. The problem with courts is – they take too long, so by the time anything’s solved Raffi will have missed the registration deadline. Hence his decision to appeal to Kocharian directly. On the other hand – if he really was that serious about running – why didn’t he apply to court earlier? Is it that good-old Armenian deadline-ism, when everything is postponed until the last moment? If that’s the case, do we want a president who can’t properly plan and coordinate his actions? If that is not the case – I’d be interested to hear why on earth Heritage waited so long before they issued this message?

  14. speaking about the choices Raffi Hovhannisyan has, Kronstadt has been speculating about the possibility of Heritage supporting Vagen Manukyan:

    I agree that a lot depends on Raffi Hovhanissian. Given the deadline for submisssions (6 Dec) I don’t think Raffi is going to sort out his citizenship criterion in this short time. Some basic gut feeling tells me that he doesn’t want to do anithing with Baghdassarian.
    What would be interesting to see is if Hovhanissian would back Vazgen Manukyan — that would quite interesting development to observe.


  15. Let’s see if next week Kocharian decides that Raffi has been a citizen since 1991 on a condition that he runs for president and supports SS during the second round. That may give us an indication about how worried they are about LTP.

  16. http://azat.wordpress.com/2007/11/22/an-act-of-responsible-politician/trackback/
    like I’ve said on ALS blog – I consider Vazgen Manukyan a spent bullet – and i don’t think he stands a chance, and Levon supporting him would be pretty much pointless. However, I’m open to debate 🙂

  17. […] while we all appear to be on the list for unsolicited emails from Hovannisian’s Heritage party, the Armenian Libertarian-Socialist Movement has another idea connected to Ter Petrosian’s […]

  18. Well, Vazgen being a “spent bullet” seems pretty much what most people think, although it has to be said that most could never have imagined that Ter Petrosian would return.
    Nevertheless, the idea is interesting. That is, Ter Petrosian supporting another candidate — and that doesn’t have to be Vazgen, right? If Raffi were to stand (looks unlikely) it could be him, or…
    There will be Artur Baghdasarian and a Dashnak candidate to be determined soon. Yes, there are others, but I think we can rule out Artashes Geghamian or Aram Karapetian even if they do run 😉
    Still, a Vazgen Manukian or Raffi Hovannisian nomination and united opposition support behind one would be interesting if only because they are less “sensitive” individuals than a Dashnak or Baghdasarian to opposition supporters.
    Again, those who don’t want to vote for Serzh Sarkisian have to ask themselves a question. As politics here is always based on the individual, are you willing to put aside dislike of certain opposition candidates if they stand a chance of preventing Serzh from becoming prez.
    Indeed, this question not only refers to Baghdasarian and a Dashnak candidate, but also to Levon as well, I suppose.

  19. I wouldn’t call Vazgen Manukian so much as a “spent bullet” as a missle that landed in sands and failed to detonate “an undetonated missile” — there’s a lot of gunpowder left in that man and someone needs to give it a spark. Even Dashnaks and Baghdassarian see a lot of potential to capitalise on.
    As for LTP supporting Baghdassarian – Levon might as well just resign from politics now then do that. Nevermind, Geghamian or Dashnaks.
    I think at this stage Vazgen is hoping to be approached by Hovanissian. If Dashnaks precede him then any re-union between Manukian and LTP is out of the question.
    At this juncture of Armenian history it would be interesting to see the original team re-union that by now has 15 years of political maturity… I mean some kind of coalition cabinet that is not unanimous and therefore balances internally. Manukyan as a President, LTP as a Prime Minister or Minister of Foreign affairs, and Hovhanissian as a Prime Minister or minister or Foreign Affairs … LTP’s rep is too tarnished to be cleaned and polished for the primary figure in such a short time — he must be secondary. Like that people will have a guarantee that he is kept at bay and can contribute constructively with his bulk of skills and experience.

  20. I just think that assuming your idea of LTP campaigning and then urging supporters to vote for someone else is taken, he’d be much better off staying out of politics entirely. Instead, he could just be that stereotypical first and former president who from time to time comments on developments in Armenia — something that he didn’t do under Kocharian. Besides, a coalition government is going to need the support of the National Assembly which is firmly under the control of Serzh and Kocharian. Sure, Republicans and Prosperous Armenia might disintegrate, but then again, they might not.

  21. That’s a good point, but I wouldn’t take it that far. Of course, he could stand back and comment (and maybe make the headlines for one day and be forgotten the next) – but when someone like him is needed I guess his actions of standing up are manifestations of a person with a very strong sense of duty: both civic duty and the duty that come with being a politician with his past. The point of LTP’s arrival is to serve as a *neutral* unifying force for various oposition factions to unite over — something that, as we have seen time and time again in the past, HZhK and NDU and others are unable to do on their own. As he noted in his first appearence before his decision to stand, he does not see any such figure that he could support, which is why he offered his own candidacy.
    However, while he thought he could come in as a symbol that is neutralised by 10 years of isolation, has been very rapidly re-politicised by the media (both governmentsl and independent, if of coure such a thing is possible). If his intention was to come in as a neutral “instrument” for unification of opposition, very soon the media re-intepreted it as if it about electing ONLY Levon and choosing to go back to HHShK years. I’d say that weakens his position in some respect, but also stregthens him in other aspects.
    I think Levon should NOT be the front man. He should definitely NOT be the president. However, if after what he did to Manukian in 1996, LTP can find it within himself to turn his support and and the support of all the forces that have already gathered around him, in favour of Manukian that is when LTP’s image will be ultimately cleansed – i.e when people will be that he is prepared to take a secondary position and that he is doing all this not for some personal gains or ambitions for power, but for the good of his polity.
    There is a lot of ambivalence around LTP – many people are sympathetic, but not 100% sure. This kind of move would be an absolute proof that would defy all the doubts and it would create a very strong opposition, (which in this case cannot come in any other form other than a “Package” like Bush&Cheyney).
    As Benjamin Netanyahu once remarked “You know how leaders are tested at the end of the day? They’re tested by their willingness to loose their position of leadership for the right thing. That is the ultimate and only true test of leadership – whether you’re ready to stand up for your values, the things you believe in and to risk failing”

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