Armenian armed forces demand PM's resignation
The Armenian Armed Forces General Staff has issued a statement demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
“The prime minister and the Government of Armenia are no longer capable of making reasonable decisions concerning the fateful crisis that the Armenian people are currently faced with”, reads the statement.
PM Pashinyan described the ongoing crisis as a military coup.
“I invite all our supporters to gather at Republic Square right now. I will be making a live address shortly”, Pashinyan posted on his Facebook page.
In his video message that followed the Facebook post, Nikol Pashinyan said that he had all the paperwork required for the dismissal of the head of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff, Onik Gasparyan:
“The situation is very difficult. You know that I made a decision to remove the Chief of the General Staff and his first deputy. I will explain the reason behind such a decision at [Republic] Square. The main priority right now is to preserve civil and people’s power”.
President of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) responded to the events that are currently unfolding in Yerevan by announcing that he is ready to act as a mediator to help overcome the political crisis in Armenia.
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What does the military want?
The statement, signed by the Chief of Armenian Forces General Staff Onik Gasparyan, as well as by all of his deputies, heads of departments, and commanders of all major military bases, says that the General Staff expresses its strong protest against the “short-sighted and unreasonable steps”, in particular, the dismissal of the first deputy chief of the General Staff.
The signatories believe that the dismissal of Tiran Khachatryan is based “solely on personal sentiments and ambitions” of PM Pashinyan.
“For a long time, the Armenian Armed Forces have patiently endured attacks aimed at discrediting the Armed Forces by the current government, but everything has its limits. The ineffective leadership of the current authorities and serious mistakes of the government’s foreign policy have brought the country on brink of destruction”, the joint statement says.
The authors of the statement also warned the authorities against using force against the protesters.
Dismissal of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff
First Deputy Chief of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff Tiran Khachatryan referred to the Prime Minister’s comment on the Iskander missiles acquired by Armenia which, according to PM Pashinyan either “did not explode at all or only exploded by 10%” as “frivolous”.
While being interviewed by a local, pro-Western news outlet, Nikol Pashinyan expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the Russian Iskander missile systems. He went on to say that they “did not explode, or only exploded by 10%”.
When asked by a journalist to comment on Pashinyan’s words, Tiran Khachatryan laughed and said:
“This cannot be possible. How? Iskander? One shot? Only exploding by ‘10%?’ Sorry, but this is cannot be serious. You cannot say such things, make such conclusions. I ask you not to develop this topic any further and refrain from spreading wrong information about military ammunition”.
Earlier, Viktor Zavarzin, Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Defense, also responded to Pashinyan’s words and accused him of lying.
President of the unrecognized NKR, Arayik Harutyunyan, who is currently visiting Yerevan said that he is ready to offer himself as a mediator in the process of settlement of the political crisis in Armenia.
In his recent Facebook post, he said that the internal political situation in Armenia is very concerning:
“I advise all sides to show composure and sanity, otherwise our defeat will deepen and become even more fatal. We have already shed enough blood, now is the time to soften the crisis and move towards long-term development and strengthening”.
Expert commentary on the crisis
“The statement of the Armenian Armed Forces General Staff is an attempt of the high commandment to justify their behavior during the second Karabakh war in autumn 2020 and to absolve themselves of the blame for the defeat in the war.
This statement would have been more appropriate during the first days of the war, rather than now, in the aftermath of the conflict, when the shameful agreement has already been signed. Today it sounded and looked like the last chord. Many believe that in the past few months, Nikol Pashinyan’s power has been relying heavily on the loyalty of the security forces. Now that the army has rebelled against him, Pashinyan has lost one of his main sources of support”, said Naira Hayrumyan, a political observer at Lragir.am.
“This is not an attempted military coup, as in this case, the army units would have already entered the streets of Yerevan. It’s just that the General Staff is realizing that Nikol Pashinyan is leading the country towards a disaster and is making a political statement”, said military expert Karen Vrtanesyan said.
Experts have not yet commented on the possible solution to the crisis.
“It’s hard to predict what will happen next. It is not yet clear how President Armen Sargsyan will choose to act. He has already called for Pashinyan’s resignation, but yesterday he failed to sign an important law. If President Sargsyan chooses not to sign the decree on the dismissal of the head of the General Staff, then, perhaps, Pashinyan himself will resign of his own accord”, political commentator, Naira Hayrumyan added.