Anti-government demonstrators in Yerevan

Opposition Continues to Rally Against Pashinyan

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YEREVAN (Armenpress, Panorama) — The joint candidate of the Fatherland Salvation Movement Vazgen Manukyan said during a demonstration at Baghramyan Street that they will patiently move forward their struggle, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Vazgen Manukyan emphasized that it is necessary to organize elections, so as the people could make a choice, but that should be done not under the current authorities. He once again reminded their plan, according to which the Prime Minister steps down, after which an interim government is formed, the situation in the country stabilizes and elections are held.

Manukyan urged protesters to block all the entrances of the National Assembly to prevent the MPs from entering.

“They must be unable to enter here. This entrance is blocked, go and block the other ones. Go ahead, my friends. We are surrounding the National Assembly, and it will return to normal operation only when it is ready to make decisions suitable for our people,” Manukyan said.

Vazgen Manukyan

Another opposition figure, Ara Saghatelyan, also urged on his supporters.

Saghatelyan, the former chief of staff of the Armenian parliament, was set free on Saturday pending trial. He thanked people for the “struggle against the dictatorship and for his freedom” at an opposition rally on Yerevan’s Baghramyan Avenue on March 9.

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“You won and I am standing here today. We won. We will achieve another victory soon. Thank you. They [PM Nikol Pashinyan and his cabinet] have broken all the written and unwritten rules and crossed all the red lines,” Saghatelyan said in his speech.

He noted that instead of reporting on 5,000 war casualties, prisoners of war, missing persons and all the losses the country suffered, the authorities think that resorting to repressive measures, imprisoning people and discrediting them will help them retain hold on power.

Ara Saghatelyan

“It won’t work. Today I declare from here that all the slaves of the regime, all the servants will answer before the law, generations and God,” Saghatelyan said, blaming Pashinyan and his cabinet for the large number of war victims and territorial losses.

Saghatelyan said he was in Artsakh almost throughout the whole period of the recent war and witnessed the “mess” created there.

“The current infantile authorities even turned the war into a show. Bayraktar drones and cluster munitions were being used against us, while they were assuring people here that we were winning. Then he [Pashinyan] says, “I am sorry.” Seriously? Do you understand what you have done? Do you give yourself an account of what you have done, the lights of how many homes you have extinguished? Do you realize that you have deprived a whole nation of their homeland and honor? Do you realize that you have left tens of thousands of people homeless and thousands of children orphans? There is and will be no forgiveness for you for the simple reason that everyone who will share that responsibility will become an accomplice, and no sane person will go for it,” Saghatelyan emphasized.

Saghatelyan had been arrested for two months as part of a criminal probe into a case concerning a fake Facebook account opened in the name of “Gagik Soghomonyan.” The page continued to be updated while the former senior parliament staffer was remanded in custody.

Artur Vanetsyan

Another opposition member, Artur Vanetsyan, said rallies do not in any way hinder the return of the Armenian prisoners of war (POWs) from Azerbaijani captivity. Vanetsyan, the former Director of the National Security Service and opposition Homeland Party leader, was part of the Homeland Salvation Movement on Tuesday.

He noted that the current authorities once again try to blame others for their “incompetence and inability to take action.”

Vanetsyan expressed hope that the president will eventually ask the Constitutional Court to determine the legality of the dismissal of the Armenian army’s General Staff chief, Onik Gasparyan, by Pashinyan, after refusing to sign the draft decree on his dismissal twice.

“We hope that today we will receive news from the President’s Office that the president has nevertheless applied to the Constitutional Court. Otherwise, we will decide what next steps to take on the spot,” the opposition leader said.

He added he is convinced that their persistent struggle and increased public pressure will yield results.

“From now on, the political agenda will be dictated from Baghramyan Avenue, and all issues related to further developments in Armenia will be resolved here,” Vanetsyan said.

Asked whether his Homeland Party plans to team up with the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF, Dashnaktsutyun) party and nominate Robert Kocharyan as their candidate for prime minister in the event of snap elections in the country, as suggested by some media reports, Vanetsyan said: “We have a primary task – the removal of Pashinyan from office, followed by the formation of an interim government and early elections. Once we get to that point, we will talk about it. During my activity of the past year, I realized that nothing can be ruled out in politics, but now it is also impossible to make any assertions.”

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