Members of the Belgian Youth Union of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) approached Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Arayik Harutyunyan, who was in Brussels on a working visit on November 22, and demanded his resignation.
During a conversation with young ARF demonstrators, the Minister announced: “March 1 happened during your governance, didn’t it? “Was not October 27 also during your government period?
In response to the minister’s statement, the young members of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun responded that it was not true. The Fact Investigation Platform decided to show what status ARF-Dashnaktsutyun had during the events of October 27, 1999 and on March 1, 2008.
October 27, 1999
In 1994, Levon Ter-Petrosyan suspended ARF activity in Armenia.
A number of ARF leaders were arrested. Only after Robert Kocharyan came to power in Armenia in 1998, the ARF Dashnaktsutyun suspension order was revoked. On May 30, 1999 ARF Dashnaktsutyun participated in the elections of the National Assembly and received eight mandates.
Karen Demirchyan became the Speaker of the National Assembly, while Vazgen Sargsyan assumed the post of the head of the government. The Dashnaktsutyun had no ministerial portfolio in the government formed by the latter.
The ARF actually backed incumbent President Robert Kocharyan, but was not represented in the cabinet, with only eight seats in the 131-seat legislature. In fact the ARF’s role in governing the country was insignificant.
March 1, 2008
The 2008 presidential elections were preceded by parliamentary elections.
As a result of the May 2007 National Assembly elections, Dashnaktsutyun received 16 seats in the parliament.
On June 6, a coalition agreement was signed between the Republican Party and the Prosperous Armenia Party, while a memorandum of cooperation was signed with the ARF.
Three Dashnaktsutyun representatives were included in the government formed under Serzh Sargsyan. Levon Mkrtchyan was appointed Minister of Education and Science, Aghvan Vardanyan – Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, and David Lokyan – Minister of Agriculture.
According to official results of the presidential elections on February 19, 2008 in Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan received 53% of the total number of voters.
The first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan was the second. After summarizing the election results, the ARF-D supreme body of Armenia issued a statement reading:
“The supporters of leading candidates have been involved in widespread, overt and covert briber;, in some polls there were cases of brutal violence, ballot stuffing, and shortcomings in the counting process.”
However, despite this statement, Dashnaktsutyun announced that it will not contest the election results.
On March 21,2008, twenty days after the bloody events of March 1, a coalition memorandum was signed between the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, the Republican Party of Armenia, the Prosperous Armenia Party and the Rule of Law Party.
It is noteworthy that a year after March 1, the March 1 commission submitted a report stating that the “police actions were generally proportionate and lawful” during the events, while ARF MP Artsvik Minasyan insisted that in the same report, “there are cases recorded when the police or individual police officers used excessive force and in certain cases went beyond the limits provided by law.”
Although the ARF had some reservations about the report, which it expressed in a special opinion, the party signed under the report, thereby legitimizing it. In fact, during the March 1 events, the ARF was represented in both the legislative and executive branches of government. Moreover, Dashnaktsutyun was in coalition with the ruling party.
Thus, Arayik Harutyunyan’s statement that the ARF was in power on October 27 and March 1 is mostly true.