YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Responding to an appeal from Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, thousands of people began gathering in Yerevan late on Tuesday, October 2, after the Armenian parliament hastily passed a bill that could seriously complicate his plans to force snap general elections.
Deputies representing not only Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party (HHK) but also the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties backed the bill despite Pashinyan’s warnings not to “again create a revolutionary situation in the country.”
“Those forces that participated in the drafting of that bill and were going to vote for it are exposing themselves as counterrevolutionary forces,” Pashinyan said after meeting with the HHK’s parliamentary leaders. “All those who will vote for or back this bill will declare a political war against the people.”
Pashinyan urged supporters to rally outside the parliament building when the parliament majority ignored the warning. They were quick to gather there and block the entrances to the National Assembly. The premier was due to address the crowd later in the evening.
Eduard Sharmazanov, the HHK spokesman and a deputy parliament speaker, insisted that the bill is not aimed at preventing the conduct of snap parliamentary elections. He said it is only meant to protect lawmakers against outside “pressures.”
“The National Assembly is an independent body and its members are free to vote in accordance with their conscience,” Sharmazanov told reporters. He accused Pashinyan of interfering in the work of the legislature.