I became prime minister not of my own free will, but because people decided so, said the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, to his supporters on Thursday. Earlier, hundreds of people gathered at Freedom Square in Yerevan, demanding the resignation of the head of government. This demand is shared by the army in connection with the dismissal of the deputy chief of the general staff Tiran Khachatrian. Pashinyan called on the opposition to stop the protests and invited its representatives to talks.
The Armenian parliamentary opposition announced that the head of government has “the last chance to leave without shocks, politically, without jeopardizing the statehood weakened by the war.” Hundreds of opponents of the authorities gathered in Freedom Square in Yerevan, demanding the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan. Earlier this was also demanded by the military. “The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia expresses a strong protest over the dismissal of the first deputy chief of staff (Tiran Khachatriana) for short-sighted and unjustified reasons, which was carried out without taking into account the national and state interests of the country and was based solely on personal and ambition” – he said in Thursday’s announcement the staff, quoted by the portal news.am.
The military decided that “the Prime Minister and the government of Armenia are not able to make the right decisions in this crisis and disastrous situation for the Armenian people.” They stressed in the press release that they “have patiently endured ‘attacks’ to discredit the armed forces by the present government for a long time, but everything has its limits.” They recalled that “they fulfilled their duty honorably, fighting side by side with their people against the enemy.” “Due to the current situation, the Armed Forces of Armenia are demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and the Government of the Republic of Armenia,” the statement said.
“Let people demand my resignation or shoot me in the square”
Nikol Pashinyan said that his and his government’s resignation was “an attempted coup.” The prime minister responded to the summons with a Facebook post, adding that he would “soon address the nation”. Later, Pashinyan went to the streets of Yerevan. He was surrounded by hundreds of his followers, whom he argued that “the situation is under control, that there are no enemies inside Armenia, and that even those military commanders he dismissed from the staff remain his brothers and soldiers of the homeland,” the Panarmenian news agency reported.
Pashinyan, in an emotional speech at the rally of his supporters, said that the question of his resignation could only be decided by the nation, because he was chosen by the nation. “I became prime minister not of my own free will, but because the people decided so,” Pashinyan shouted to the crowd of over 20,000 gathered in the Republic Square. “Let people demand my resignation or shoot me in the square,” he added.
Later, after the speech in the square, Pashinyan called the opposition to stop the protests and invited them to talks on the political crisis
The immediate cause of the crisis is the criticism of the army by Pashinyan. On Wednesday, in an interview with the 1in.am portal, Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the flaws of Russian Iskanders. The journalist asked the head of the government how he assessed the claim of former president Serzh Sarkisian that spikers could be used as early as 3-4 days after the outbreak of the war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
– I think (Sarkisian) should have answers to many questions, not ask questions that he knows the answers to. Or maybe he will answer why fired Iskander missiles did not explode or exploded only in 10 percent? – said Pashinyan. The journalist, concealed by surprise, asked: – Is it even possible? “I don’t know … Maybe it’s a weapon from the 1980s,” replied the prime minister.
The deputy chief of the general staff, Tiran Khachatrian, assessed the prime minister’s words as “not serious”. Later, the media in Yerevan reported that the military had been released. The Russian agency Interfax reported that Chief of Staff Onik Gasparian was also fired, who, along with other high-ranking military men, signed a statement demanding the resignation of the prime minister and the government. News.am later reported that President Armen Sarkisjan “is in no hurry to sign the decree on the release of Gasparian.”
The Russian agency RIA Novosti reported that the chairmen and deputy speakers of parliament, MPs and members of the government had arrived at the government building after the statement of the general staff.
The Kremlin’s concern
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was following the situation in Armenia with concern. However, he stated that the current events were an internal affair of the country. Russia considers Armenia as its important ally in the Caucasus, Peskov added.
The Kremlin representative noted that Russia called for peace and that he hoped that the situation would develop within the limits set by the constitution. So far, the authorities of Russia and Armenia have not contacted about recent events, but such contacts will be undertaken if necessary, Peskov added. He did not answer the question whether Russia could act as an intermediary in the process of regulating the situation in Armenia.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also said on Thursday that the situation in Armenia is an “internal affair” of the country. The comment was provided by the TASS agency.
16 missile systems
The Russian portal RBK recalled that when they broke out fight for the separatist Nagorno-KarabakhArmenia was armed with at least 16 missile systems: eight elbruses, four toques and four sparks. Late last year, military commanders in Yerevan said the sparks were used, but did not provide details.
At the end of September last year, the authorities in Baku made an attempt to regain control of the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region inhabited mainly by Armenians. After six weeks of fighting, in which Azerbaijani troops won, a tripartite ceasefire agreement was signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia as a guarantee of compliance with the agreement.
Russian peacekeepers entered the disputed region, and Armenia pledged to hand over to Azerbaijan the occupied territories in Nagorno-Karabakh and the three adjacent regions.
news.am, yerevan.today, 1in.am, Panarmenian, RIA Nowosti, PAP, tvn24.pl
Main photo source: ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT PRESS OFFICE