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Dashnak Leader Blasts Pashinian


Armenia - Armen Rustamian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, speaks at an election campaign rally in Yerevan, November 26, 2018.

A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Armen Rustamian, accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Monday of abusing administrative resources and trying to stifle dissent ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Rustamian condemned Pashinian for telling the National Security Service (NSS) to “deal with” politicians accusing him of jeopardizing Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s security.

Pashinian decried over the weekend “false” opposition claims about a government “conspiracy against Karabakh” and a suspension of Russian arms supplies to Armenia. They may amount to high treason, he declared without naming names.

Rustamian suggested that the premier referred to Dashnaktsutyun as well. “If he didn’t mean us, I would ask him to elaborate on his statement,” he said, adding that the authorities must stop trying to “find traitors” in any case.

“These unaddressed accusations are creating an atmosphere of terror and a situation where we can already speak of unequal conditions and abuse of administrative resources,” he told reporters.

Rustamian went as far as to draw parallels between Pashinian and former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, who banned Dashnaktsutyun and had some of its leaders arrested in 1994-1995.

“In the 1990s I was accused of high treason,” he said. “This is Levon Ter-Petrosian’s style. They arrested me but couldn’t prove anything.”

Another Dashnaktsutyun leader, Hrant Markarian, is among those critics of the new Armenian government who have claimed that Russian arms deliveries to Armenia stopped after Pashinian came to power in May. The premier angrily denied Markarian’s claim at the start of his election campaign last week.

For his part, Rustamian said on November 26 that Pashinian’s government may be trying to “replace old political and economic monopolies with new ones.”

Dashnaktsutyun was officially allied to former President Serzh Sarkisian during the last two years of his decade-long rule. A power-sharing agreement signed in 2016 gave it three ministerial posts in Sarkisian’s government.

Dashnaktsutyun reached a similar deal with Pashinian after mass protests led by him forced Sarkisian to resign as prime minister in April. The de facto coalition collapsed in October, with Pashinian accusing Dashnaktsutyun and another partner, the Prosperous Armenia Party, of collaborating with Sarkisian’s Republican Party.

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