Armenian PM announces wave of dismissals after satirical video leak
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan announced a new wave of layoffs from the state apparatus after footage of him appeared before a live broadcast and which was edited into a mocking video clip.
The broadcast from which the pre-production footage was taken took place on April, when Pashinyan spoke to citizens about the fight against the coronavirus.
The address was broadcast by Armenia’s Channel One, though other channels also carried it.
Pre-production footage which portrayed Pashinyan in a mocking light later appeared online. In the video, Pashinyan jokes, drinks from a bottle, takes medicine and coughs.
The prime minister’s press secretary reacted harshly to the distribution of the video, accusing Channel One of unprofessionalism and sloppy work. Then came clarifications from the TV channel: the preliminary broadcast footage was also available to other television channels broadcasting the prime minister’s appeal.
MPs from the ruling party, the opposition and the Ombudsman were outraged by the event.
Channel One has denied its role in the leak. On the evening of April 18, a statement appeared on the channel’s official Facebook page, saying the public broadcaster has nothing to do with the leaks. At the government’s insistence, eight other television companies were given open access to the broadcast.
On April 19, PM Pashinyan spoke live on Facebook, and noted that under the former government, “people were afraid to scold, insult, fearing for their life and health. Today there are no criminal groups, courtyard authorities, which the authorities kept for themselves in order to terrorize the population. Today everyone knows that we won’t do such a thing, and that’s why they are insolent. They want to make us think of us as spineless, spineless power. They want to make us lose our temper, but we will not follow this path.”
The Prime Minister said that it was time to review his staff and announced a new wave of layoffs from the state apparatus:
“We said that there will be no vendetta, there will be a revolution of love and solidarity. There will be no personnel battle. And we kept our word. We did the right thing to keep our word. Have we suffered from this? Yes. There will be no personnel purges, but those who abuse the ‘velvet’ revolution should be thrown out. People who abused the chance they got … should be excluded from the system of state administration. What happened in the year 2018 was emotions. The real revolution is happening now.”
The leader of the ruling faction My Step Lilit Makunts said that the ruling political force expects clarifications from those who are responsible for disseminating personnel preparing the prime minister for the broadcast:
“What happened is unacceptable for our faction … Our position in this regard is quite tough and decisive.”
Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan regarded the video that appeared on the network as an immoral attempt to ridicule the Prime Minister:
“Such an attitude is unacceptable to a public person, adversary, political rival, friend or relative. We must be guided by deep respect for the symbols of our state and people: from the president to the prime minister, from the Armenian Apostolic Church to the Catholicos. Otherwise, we will have neither harmony in public life, nor peace and solidarity between generations.”