Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 50

The Armenian Pan-National Movement (APNM) has reelected as its chairman Vano Siradeghian, who had recently fled the country. The movement’s board made that decision with twenty-one votes in favor, fourteen opposed and six abstaining on March 8. The board meeting capped a party congress which set the APNM’s strategy for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Siradeghian’s supporters predict that he will return to the country and run for a parliamentary seat, which would render him immune from criminal prosecution. He would, as a minimum, enjoy such immunity for the duration of the electoral campaign in the capacity of a candidate. Siradeghian’s current whereabouts are uncertain. He fled to Dubai, was reported to have gone from there to France and is said by some supporters to be in the Middle East again (Noyan-Tapan, Snark, Respublika Armeniya, March 9; see the Monitor, January 27-28, February 1).

The APNM, in power from 1990 to 1998, is currently the largest opposition party, despite massive defections. Siradeghian, the APNM’s undisputed political and business godfather, left in late January after the parliament narrowly voted to lift his deputy’s immunity at the request of the prosecutor general. Siradeghian is suspected of being involved in several unsolved assassinations and various corruption affairs during his successive tenures as Internal Affairs minister and Yerevan mayor. He and his supporters retort that the charges are inspired by political rivals–namely, President Robert Kocharian and the Republican Party (the emergent party of power, based on the Yerkrapah organization and controlled by the Defense Ministry).