Hovannisian ends hunger strike, attends Easter Service

Raffi Hovannisian, a runner-up in last month’s presidential ballot disputing President Serzh Sargsyan’s reelection, ended his 21-day hunger strike in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Sunday and headed for Holy Echmiadzin to attend an Easter Service together with his family.

Hovannisian thanked his supporters for being next to him during the last three weeks as well as the police for being nice and kind to him “despite certain contradictions”.

He said it was as an ordinary follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church that he was going to Echmiadzin to attend the liturgy where President Sargsyan and other senior Armenian government officials were also present.

Hovannisian again said that he will resume trips to the region on Monday before gathering his supporters for another rally in Yerevan on April 5.

Earlier this week, President Sargsyan urged his challenger to quit his hunger strike, recover ‘for a day or two’ and engage in a political dialogue on ways to end the post-election standoff.

The president said that while he considered Hovannisian’s demands for snap parliamentary elections and several key positions in the next government as contradicting the principles of state governance and the Constitution, he was still prepared to begin a dialogue around them.

On Friday Hovannisian said that he would “consult the people” at the next rally to decide on his actions for April 9, the day when Sargsyan is due to be sworn in for the second and last consecutive presidential term.

During his current campaign of protests the opposition leader has repeatedly said that “this way or that a new Armenia will be sworn in” on that day. He yet has to elaborate on that.