The ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) on Wednesday urged opposition leader Nikol Pashinian to end his continuing rallies in Yerevan and embark on a “dialogue” with the government.
The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, said Pashinian will fail to force the newly installed Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian into resignation and his “extreme actions” could lead to bloodshed.
“That is a very serious burden of responsibility,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “That is why I am calling for dialogue and solidarity.”
“Whether you love or hate Sharmazanov, I love you all,” he added, appealing to Pashinian and his mostly young supporters demonstrating in Yerevan and other parts of the country.
“[Political] dialogue occurs in parliament,” Sharmazanov said when asked to elaborate on his offer. “Yesterday we witnessed a good example of dialogue.”
The official referred to verbal exchanges between Sarkisian and several deputies from the opposition Yelk alliance during Tuesday’s session of the Armenian parliament which voted to elect the new premier. While refusing to join Pashinian’s campaign, those lawmakers criticized Sarkisian and voted against his continued rule. Sarkisian urged them to “bring your colleague from the street to the parliament.”
Pashinian and three senior members of his Civil Contract party were also elected to the parliament on the Yelk ticket. They all boycotted Tuesday’s session.
Pashinian shrugged off Sharmazanov’s offer as hundreds of his supporters continued to march through central Yerevan. “What dialogue after all this?” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) outside three government ministries surrounded by the protesters.
The outspoken politician appealed to the ministry staffers through a megaphone, saying that they should also take to the streets and “exercise your rights.” Pashinian and his supporters then chanted the main slogan of the protests: “Take a step, reject Serzh!”
Sharmazanov said that the protests must end also because they are “getting out hand.” Pashinian cannot “endlessly exploit the authorities’ patience” and “exceptional restraint” shown by the police, he said.
In particular, the ruling party spokesman pointed out that several young men smashed traffic lights and hurled rocks at a police car in downtown Yerevan the previous night.
Pashinian was quick to strongly deny any responsibility for what he called an HHK “provocation” aimed at discrediting his movement.He argued that the incident occurred after he told supporters to go home following Tuesday’s rallies. He also noted that law-enforcement bodies have not arrested any of the violent youths who were caught on cameras.