Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian insisted on Tuesday that he did not mean any crackdowns on dissent when he ordered Armenian security services to “deal with” his bitter opponents.
Speaking during an election campaign rally at the weekend, Pashinian decried “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 said, adding that the country’s national security and military intelligence services must take action.
The remarks were denounced by top representatives of the Republican Party (HHK) and its former coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). A Dashnaktsutyun leader accused Pashinian of trying to stifle dissent ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections.
The prime minister dismissed such statements as he campaigned in the Armavir and Aragatsotn provinces.
“What I’m saying is that if people claim that the [Pashinian-led] revolution was part of a plan to hatch a conspiracy against Artsakh (Karabakh) or surrender Artsakh then they allege high treason,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“It’s a matter of national security,” he said. “Those people must be summoned and told: ‘Give us your information.’ If there is such a thing then those conspirators must be identified and held accountable. But if it turns out that they simply make false statements, the public must at least know that they are provocateurs and liars. That’s all.”
Pashinian spoke on Saturday of treacherous warmongers” and “some forces attempting to take subversive actions in our army’s rear.” They might be “agents of foreign influence,” he said without naming anyone.
In his latest campaign speeches, Pashinian turned on “corrupt” judges and other state officials. “In Armenia’s judicial system there are numerous corrupt, thieving judges,” he said. “We will hold those judges accountable one by one.”
“Nobody in Armenia, no former, current or future official will digest what they have stolen,” he pledged.