Vote 2012: Pashinyan turns down Alexanyan invitation to banquet, reminds of his invitation to TV debate

Vote 2012: Pashinyan turns down Alexanyan invitation to banquet, reminds of his invitation to TV debate


Nikol Pashinyan (l), Samvel Alexanyan

Nikol Pashinyan, an outspoken opposition candidate who recently lost in a single-mandate constituency election to tycoon Samvel Alexanyan, has turned down the latter’s invitation to a banquet to celebrate the outcome of a “free, fair and transparent” vote.
Samvel Farmanyan (l), Vladimir Karapetyan

In a letter to the government-linked MP, Pashinyan, who also entered the National Assembly as a result of the May 6 vote, but as part of the Armenian National Congress’s proportional list, made a counter suggestion, reminding his opponent of his invitation to hold a televised debate that was repeatedly rejected by Alexanyan during the campaign period.

Pashinyan, who runs the radical opposition Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper, said then by holding the debate he wanted to prove Alexanyan’s lacking credentials as a politician.

In response, Alexanyan, who owns a chain of supermarkets and other businesses in Armenia (although denies running them directly as the constitution bars Armenian lawmakers from engaging in entrepreneurial activities), invited Pashinyan to be the “toastmaster” at the banquet that he was going to throw at his restaurant following his win in the elections.

In a letter to Pashinyan after the elections Alexanyan, who officially polled more than twice as many votes as his opponent in constituency N7 that covers much of Yerevan’s western Malatia-Sebastia district, described the May 6 parliamentary elections in Armenia and in his district, in particular, as “free, fair, transparent and competitive”, quoting international observers on that.

Pashinyan, who disputes the official outcome of the vote, responded, sardonically: “Mr. Alexanyan, I was pleased to receive a letter from you. But it shows not so much the advancement of the electoral system as much as your personal advancement. I am pleased to see that I have made an important contribution to that.

“As a fellow MP, I reaffirm my invitation to a live televised debate with you during which we will discuss the topics brought up in your letter, as well as the process of the elections, their legitimacy, the political state in Armenia, prices for products after the elections and our future activities in parliament,” Pashinyan said, suggesting organizing such a debate on May 20.

“If you still have an appetite after that debate and won’t be too depressed, only in that case will there be any sense in discussing your invitation to a banquet,” he added.

A post-election “exchange” is also possible between two recent rivals in constituency N2. There, Samvel Farmanyan, a ruling Republican Party member and former spokesman for President Serzh Sargsyan, defeated Vladimir Karapetyan, a former Foreign Ministry spokesman who is now affiliated with the opposition Armenian National Congress.

The election campaign in the district progressed amid mutual accusations and mud-slinging that culminated in a televised debate on April 26 that quickly turned into a shouting match.

Now, in the capacity of the winner, Farmanyan wants to have a few beers at Karapetyan’s house while watching together the UEFA Champions League final Saturday night (May 19). Both are known to be big soccer fans.

In recent comments on Kentron TV Karapetyan responded by saying that the doors of his house were open to Farmanyan, but at the same time he voiced his perplexity at how the latter could visit him after such an acrimonious campaign.