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Armenian Court Validates ‘Counterrevolutionary’ Bill


ARMENIA -- Supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian protest outside the parliament building in Yerevan, October 2, 2018.

The Constitutional Court has upheld the legality of a controversial bill which led Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to stage an angry demonstration outside Armenia’s parliament and allege a “counterrevolutionary” conspiracy against his government in October.

The bill hastily passed by the former National Assembly called into question the success of Pashinian’s plans to force snap general elections in December, over six months after the country’s “velvet revolution.” It was drafted by former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and backed by Pashinian’s junior coalition partners: the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) and Dashnaktsutyun parties.

The prime minister accused the three parliamentary forces of a “conspiracy against the Armenian people” before sacking his ministers affiliated with the BHK and Dashnaktsutyun. Responding to his appeal, thousands of his supporters rallied outside the parliament building in Yerevan and blocked the entrances to it late on October 2.

ARMENIA -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses supporters during a rally outside the parliament building in Yerevan early, October 3, 2018
ARMENIA -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses supporters during a rally outside the parliament building in Yerevan early, October 3, 2018

The parliamentary leaders assured Pashinian during overnight negotiations that they will not impede the parliament’s early dissolution sought by him. The elections were held on December 8. Pashinian’s My Step alliance won them by a landslide.

Later in October, President Armen Sarkissian refused to sign the bill into law, citing “apparent legal-constitutional problems” emanating from it. Sarkissian asked the Constitutional Court to pass judgment on it.

In a ruling announced over the weekend, the court concluded that the bill conforms to the Armenian constitution.

Ararat Mirzoyan, the current parliament speaker and a key Pashinian ally, said on Monday that he respects the ruling. “As a politician, I can find it good or bad,” he told journalists. “But as president of the National Assembly, I will not challenge the Constitutional Court ruling.”

Armenia -- A Constitutional Court hearing in Yerevan, April 25, 2017.
Armenia -- A Constitutional Court hearing in Yerevan, April 25, 2017.

Mirzoyan insisted at the same time that the country’s highest court did not prove Pashinian wrong. “The HHK was not right in any way,” he said.

The former ruling party, which failed to win any seats in the current legislature, did not immediately react to the court’s decision. Arpine Hovannisian, a senior HHK figure and a co-author of the bill, promised to make a detailed statement next week.

Some HHK supporters and other critics of the current government earlier accused Pashinian of illegally blockading and pressuring the parliament in October.

The BHK, which is now in opposition to Pashinian’s government, reacted cautiously to the development. “Whatever happened, happened,” Mikael Melkumian, a senior BHK lawmaker, said when asked whether the Constitutional Court ruling means Pashinian’s furious reaction was unfounded.

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