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Armenian Party In Disarray As Leader Leaves Parliament

Raffi Hovannisian
Raffi Hovannisian
YEREVAN -- Turmoil surrounds Armenia's Zharangutiun (Heritage) party since party founder Raffi Hovannisian resigned from the National Assembly and three senior party members were expelled from the party amid accusations of secretly colluding with the authorities, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Hovannisian, 50, served as the newly independent country's first foreign minister in 1992 and founded Zharangutiun in 2002.

He has yet to explain his surprise resignation, which he announced on September 7, though an announcement from him is expected soon.

Zoya Tadevosian, one of the members expelled from the party's board on September 15, said Hovannisian also wrote a letter saying that he was "leaving the party."

But Zharangutiun spokesman Hovsep Khurshudian told RFE/RL that is "disinformation" and that the de facto party leader remains a member.

Tadevosian said she will now urge supporters to leave Zharangutiun "en masse."

As the party's nominal chairman and the three expelled members accuse one another of foul play, the controversy is likely to cost Zharangutiun some of its seven seats in the 131-member parliament.