Armen Rustamyan, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), resigned from Armenia’s National Security Council on Thursday in accordance with the party’s recent withdrawal from the governing coalition.
Rustamyan served in the presidential body comprising the top state officials in his capacity as chairman of the Armenian parliament’s committee on foreign affairs. Like other Dashnaktsutyun members holding senior positions in the executive and legislative branches, he tendered his resignation after the party quit the coalition in protest against President Serzh Sargsyan’s conciliatory policy toward Turkey.
Rustamyan withdrew the resignation a few days later, after the Dashnaktsutyun leadership accepted a government offer to retain its control of two parliament chairs. Nonetheless, he asked Sargsyan on Wednesday to terminate his membership in the National Security Council. He was formally removed from the advisory body the next day.
According to Vahan Hovhannesyan, Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary leader, in quitting the council, Rustamyan complied with a decision taken by the party leadership. “The country’s National Security Council has a number of rules,” explained Hovannisian. “Under its statutes, the council members are obliged to implement decisions made by the council.”
“Since we left the coalition because of disagreeing with such decisions, it would be impossible [for Rustamyan] to meet this requirement,” he told RFE/RL.
The coalition exit automatically turned Dashnaktsutyun into a second opposition force contesting the May 31 mayoral elections in Yerevan. The party kicked off its election campaign on Monday.
Its mayoral candidate, Artsvik Minasyan, complained on Thursday that Yerevan residents are more indifferent to the polls than he expected. “I expected a higher degree of public interest,” he told RFE/RL.
Minasyan also commented on his conspicuous absence from small campaign rallies organized by Dashnaktsutyun activists in residential areas across Yerevan. “My non-participation is conditioned by other kinds of campaign activities, including online interviews and meetings in various places,” he said.
The main opposition contender, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), has been holding larger and more high-profile campaign rallies. The HAK’s top leader and mayoral candidate, former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, attends and speaks at all of those rallies.