Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 88

Armenian President Robert Kocharian yesterday rescinded the December 1994 decree of his predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrosian, which had suspended the activity of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF)–in Armenian, Dashnaksutiun. Kocharian’s measure also invalidates the Armenian Justice Ministry’s January 1995 measures against the ARF. Kocharian, leader of Karabakh at the time, permitted the Dashnaks to continue operating freely in that republic. He also allowed them to resume operations in Armenia itself when he became acting president of Armenia in February of this year. The party supported Kocharian’s candidacy in both rounds of the presidential election this March and April. The ARF governed the first independent Armenian republic in 1918-1920, and is highly influential in the Armenian diaspora. (Noyan-Tapan, May 6)

The Armenian government which took office last month includes the ARF’s Levon Mkrtchian as minister of education, the first Dashnak minister since 1920, and head of the ARF’s Hai Dat office (see below). Kocharian has also appointed ARF leader Vahan Hovhanissian as presidential coordinator for public affairs. Kocharian also, yesterday, appointed Suren Abramian–who is known to have close relations with the ARF–as mayor of Yerevan. (Noyan-Tapan, May 6) That post was recently vacated by Vano Siradeghian, who doubled as leader of the Armenian Pan-National Movement–the ruling party until February of this year.

The ARF adheres to a nationalist and moderately leftist ideology. It campaigns for recognition of an Ottoman genocide of Armenians, and promotes the Hai Dat (Armenian Cause) program, which aims ultimately to recover areas formerly populated by Armenians in present-day Turkey and Azerbaijan (Nakhichevan). The ARF calls for parliamentary elections to be held this year in order to replace the legislature elected in 1995, when the suspended Dashnaksutiun was excluded from the competition.