Opposition leader “hungry for change”

Armenia -- Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian begins a hunger strike in Yerevan's Liberty Square, 15Mar2011

Armenia -- Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian begins a hunger strike in Yerevan's Liberty Square, 15Mar2011

On March 15, 2011 Raffi Hovannisian, the leader of Zharangutyun (Heritage) opposition party, announced, that he’s had enough with the corrupt politicians and inept bureaucrats of Armenia and went on a hunger strike to bring about change.

Hovannisian announced the “freedom fast” in a speech at a Zharangutyun conference.

“I’m not begging, asking or demanding,” he said. “But I expect that in this emergency situation the current authorities will come down and give back the Armenian people their votes and their voice. And I expect the authorities to expedite an emergency solution.”

Move appreciated, but not quite understood

As soon as Zharangutyun party’s leader announced about his hunger strike and moved to Yerevan’s Liberty square, politicians and journalists panicked.

Everybody seemed to appreciate this move: Hovhannisian, a wealthy Diaspora Armenian, a former minister and leader of albeit small, but visible opposition force represented in Parliament is going on a hunger strike…

Questions lingered, however.  E.g. “What exactly are the demands?” “How long is Hovhannisian going to fast?” “Why now?” “Does he seriously think that the hunger strike will result in any change?”

Most are still unanswered, even despite a dozen interviews Zharangutyun leader has already given. Some are even joking, that Raffi Hovhannisian simply wanted to demonstrate the fact, that he has just shaved his trademark mustache.

There are also conspiracy theories. Some are saying it was a simple PR stunt. Others are saying, that by this move, Raffi Hovhannisian is trying to find a role for his small opposition party to play as social tension builds up in the country and Armenia’s leading opposition force – Levon Ter-Petrossian led Armenian National Congress (HAK) once again emerges as the leading force to carry opposition moves.

Pro-HAK newspapers, meanwhile, were full of anti-Hovhannisian and anti-Zharangutyun comments today, despite the fact, that many opposition politicians visited Hovhannisian in his hunger strike.

Media on another opposition force, Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF-Dashnaktsutyun), which often sees Zharangutyun as a competitor, had inconsistent coverage. Yerkir daily, the main Dashnaktsutyun newspaper inside Armenia, covered Hovhannisian’s hunger strike extensively and in a very balanced way, while Asbarez.com, which is the most popular ARF periodical in the Armenian Diaspora, kept surprisingly silent.


By going into the hunger strike in the Liberty square, Raffi Hovhannisian is doing a big favor both to the Armenian authorities and the Armenian National Congress.

The authorities have imposed a  3-year-long moratorium on holding opposition rallies in Liberty square, after non-stop rallies held there by Ter-Petrossian supporters back in February 2008 ended in violent break-up of the rally by security forces and clashes in Yerevan which resulted in 10 deaths.

All efforts of HAK supporters to enter the square and stage a rally, or even a minor protest action have been blocked in the past.

Ahead of tomorrow’s rally HAK supporters had announced on Facebook, that they plan to break into the square. This would inevitably result in clashes with security forces, as the police usually circulate the square and don’t let the opposition in.

Now, as Zharangutyun leader is based here and many HAK leaders, as well as general public have visited him there, the square seems to be open for the opposition once again and the authorities don’t really need to block it anymore.

More importantly, now plans by HAK to break into the square will become meaningless, because the moratorium is broken and there’s no victory in doing that.

Hence, Raffi Hovhannisian seems to have prevented likely clashes, whether he intended it or not. Which is good, because we really don’t need another “March 1” in Yerevan.


7 thoughts on “Opposition leader “hungry for change”

  1. Hello,

    I think if this was a message, then RH should at least voice that message so public understands what is the idea of that message.

    If this was a message, then at least RH should tell why he had chosen this particular method of protest.

    In despite of numerous interviews he gave he, as a true diplomat, answers all questions without acrially answering them.

    I think this is an attempt to make a PR campaign, but, most importantly, bring protesters of March 17 to Liberty square.

    Levon Ter-Petrosyan obviously doesn’t want a revolution but he has thousands of supporters who would go to Liberty square at any given moment. So why not to become a new hero of revolution?

    If, however, people do not join him he can still continue his protest for a few more days and then leave the square.

    The day to start a strike is chosen brilliantly. And very smart PR action.

  2. wow, I live to comment for this kind of content…thank you for posting about this. I was wondering if you would or not, but I dont like to push or ask someone to blog about what I want to read. I let the blogger take his/her natural course handling his/her own content. but you should always consider to write some content on what your readers would like to read more about, just a suggestion, not a demand.
    anyway, if any of you all know me well by now from my past comments regarding our bullsh*t political sphere in Hayastan, than you all know well enough I’m some what fair & balanced, but I’m neither serjikakan nor levonakan… I am for HAYKakan (the homeland, the ppl).
    with out any doubts this is definitely a big PR stunt on his part. he’s been losing weight since 1 year ago, he’s dropped almost 85 pounds (38-40 kilo). and all of sudden he comes out to say: ” I’m dong hunger strike” well mr. hunger strike, why did you not comment about your weight loss last year? strong & credible rumors have been afloat here in Little Armenia that you have cancer or some sort of illness (hence the dramatic amount of weight loss in less than a year now). also, these rumors contain that you’re receiving the best money can buy treatment to kill off your illness. those who know about cancer-therapy know that a patient can have dramatic weight & hair loss in short amount of time. (notice he has been losing his hair now more & more since 1 year ago, he’s not all that old people). you can clearly see he’s cut his hair shorter & shorter since Nov-Dec 2010 ( 4 months ago I saw him on ARTN Shant TV morning show re-aired here in LA, he had MORE hair back then) from the pic above its obvious he’s cutting it shorter and shaving his face to keep up this “hunger strike” appearance. another rumor amongst Armenian political gossipers is he discreetly under went gastric bypass surgery to make the stomach smaller, which forces one to consume less food, which causes the body to use all that excess body fat to burn it off as energy and causes rapid weight loss in short amount of time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastric_bypass_surgery)
    if any of you who have a brain and use it, then you will realize that ALL politics in any country is always SMOKE n’ MIRRORS, LIES n’ DECEPTION, THEATRICS n’ TRICKERY, never the truth, never the reality, never honesty. 1st rule in politics: LIE, LIE, and LIE….”politics is like a gun, you have to know when to pull the trigger” (source: the godfather part III).
    so in retrospect, knowing this mans deceptive history and his attention for media, I dont believe for a mili-second this guy is “hunger striking”. he has enough money to eat and piss on everyone walking by him to last him and his granchildrens’ grandchildrens lifetime. he’s net worth is estimated to be 10 mill by himself (with out his rich daddy & relatives), and fact that he’s been working for/with LTP last 20 years, well that alone raises my brows to question his intentions. by the way, do all of you know about his son’s (Garik) genocide/family book that was published-released last year. I heard he cleared a nice big chunk of change from writing his so-called family’s suffering. rule #1 in making money from the gor gors: write a book or anything about GENOCIDE and they’ll throw so much money at you… as we say in Hayeren: poxeri mej es loxanum, but if you write a book about the suffering and destruction of Hayastan…naaaah ara, we not interested in that ha, its all about GENOCIDE for us. what’s Hayastan? is that a country? oh we never heard of it !

  3. Andranik, I have been increadably busy at work these days, that’s the only reoson why I wasn’t able to writ about this earlier.

    In fact, I have several draft posts, covering Serzh Sargsyan’s recent speaches – just no time at all to finalize and publish :(

  4. “Qaj Andranik”, you are saying heartless and cynical things. Know this: by denigrading others we can never elevate ourselves. Raffi may have his sins, as all of us do, but he has a very long way to go to reach the “levels” of the scum that now governs and destroys Armenia. And by the way I have nothing to do with Raffi.

  5. Andranik jan, you remind me of the biblical saying. “The righteous speak little and do much; the wicked speak much and do nothing.”

    be productive my son.

  6. Pingback: Armenian opposition “liberates” the Liberty square | The Armenian Observer Blog

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