Armenian Prime Minister recovers and returns to work. His return is accompanied by the resignation of several high-ranking security workers.
The Armenian Prime Minister stated on April 8 that he had made a full recovery. He announced that he had been diagnosed with coronavirus just a week before.
“The whole family just received the results of our repeated coronavirus test [his whole family had been diagnosed – JAMnews]. All tests came back negative…I’m returning to work full time,” wrote the prime minister on his Facebook page.
At the same time, news spread of several high-profile resignations in law-enforcement agencies.
The Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, the head of the National Security Council and the Head of the police left their posts. And just a few minutes later, the names of those who occupy these posts was announced.
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Did the Chief of General Staff leave because of his son’s wedding?
The other day, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that many changes are coming. He did not specify exactly what these changes would be, however, on June 4, David Ananyan, the head of the Armenian State Revenue Committee, resigned.
News first broke about the resignation of Artak Davtyan, the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, on June 8.
This story was preceded by coverage of his son’s wedding. On June 7, Armenian media sources wrote that the senior military officer had violated the commandant’s instructions and organized a wedding with around 100 guests in attendance.
The state of emergency continues to be in effect in the country until June 13, and all public events are prohibited.
Davtyan himself stated that “everyone has the right to privacy”:
“I ask that certain individuals and the press not to invade the personal lives of me and my family, and not to try to drag me into political games.”
There is no official confirmation of what caused him to be dismissed. We can only assume that it was the scandal surrounding the wedding that forced Davtyan to write a letter of resignation.
As for the celebration itself, the police reported:
“Police officers were there, warned, and drafted an appropriate protocol. The event was discontinued.”
Why the two others left
The official reason behind the resignation of Eduard Martirosyan, the head of the National Security Council, and Arman Sargsyan, the chief of police, is also unclear.
However, the other day, the prime minister himself said that he had had rather difficult conversation with the head of the National Security Council and the chief of police about the fact that the security forces were unable to ensure compliance with sanitary standards throughout the country.
As of May 8, there are 13,325 reported cases of infection in Armenia. Hundreds of new cases are being confirmed daily. The government does not intend to stop businesses that have already restarted operations, and only calls for people to adhere to the new code of conduct and sanitary norms at work.
The opposition demands that the prime minister himself resign
These high-profile resignations occurred amidst the opposition’s demands for a “100% government overhaul.”
This statement was made on June 5 by leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, head of the parliamentary faction with the same name, and big-business owner Gagik Tsarugyan. He believes that the government that came to power after the Velvet Revolution in 2018 did not live up to the hopes of the people and should undergo a complete overhaul.
Tsarugyan recalled a statement he made a year prior, when he said that the government was not coping with the tasks assigned to it:
“I said then that if they want change, then they need to change 97% of the administration. But today, seeing all these failures and setbacks, I believe that we must change the current structure completely, 100%. It is an unpleasant truth, but we see that all areas have failed.”
Pashinyan himself made no comment on the oligarch’s statement. However, his press-secretary Mané Gevorgyan wrote on her Facebook page that Gagik Tsarugyan was simply worried about the ongoing investigation of a number of criminal cases in which he is involved:
“If Mr. Tsarukyan believes that his political statements will interrupt the normal course of the investigation, then he is mistaken, since in Armenia, everyone is equal before the law. Including the law on confiscation of illegally acquired property, and on this item, Mr. Tsarukyan may also have cause for concern.”
Political observer Naira Hayrumyan believes that:
“Since the beginning of June, when the rates of coronavirus diagnoses and deaths rose sharply, people have been consistently been demanding resignations – of the minister, commandant, and prime minister, it doesn’t matter.
This reaction is entirely natural: after several weeks of isolation, self-restraint, and anxiety comes a period of letting off aggression. In the USA, this resulted in major upheaval, in Russia they predict a wave of protests…In Armenia, things could be different, and the resignation of government officials no longer seems as incredible as it was a week ago.”
Political scientist Hakob Badalyan viewed the resignations in terms of ratings of the government and the opposition:
“The fact is that the chairman of the party, who is demanding that the current administration resign, only received 10% of the vote during the 2018 parliamentary elections, and this was during the second round. And the majority of the My Step Alliance received 70%.
There is no doubt that after 1.5 years, the parliament majority has lost part of the vote of confidence, showing that people are dissatisfied and even disappointed with the government’s work. But there are no signs that this has become such a large movement that it will cause the balance of power to shift,” writes the expert.