Armenia’s leading opposition forces denounced as unconstitutional on Sunday night Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s calls for a blockade of all court buildings in the country.
Pashinian appealed to his supporters to stage such protests on Monday morning following the release from custody of his bitter foe and former President Robert Kocharian, who is facing corruption and coup charges.
A senior representative of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest in parliament, said the appeal violated an article of the Armenian constitution which bans any outside interference in the work of the judiciary.
“If [Pashinian] is politically disappointed with some persons he must not express that by exerting pressure on the courts and disrupting, paralyzing the work of the courts,” Gevorg Petrosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Petrosian claimed that Pashinian’s actions amount to a “manifestation of the overthrow of the constitutional order” and could leader to a “civil war” in the country.
Bright Armenia (LHK), the other opposition party represented in the parliament, accused Pashinian of disrupting “the administration of justice for thousands of people” and thus violating their constitutional rights as well as Armenia’s international obligations.
“We are calling on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to reconsider his appeal and refrain from his intention to block the entrances to the courts,” read a statement issued by the LHK.
The LHK also called for an emergency session of the National Assembly. At the same time it expressed readiness to participate in “institutional reforms of the judicial system.”
Pashinian’s move also drew strong condemnation from opposition groups not holding seats in the current assembly, notably former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK).
In a statement, the HHK’s governing board charged that the “unprecedented pressure” on the Armenian judiciary violates not only the constitution but also the Criminal Code. Accordingly, it urged Armenians to steer clear of the “dangerous and adventurist procedures” initiated by Pashinian.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) likewise issued a statement condemning Pashinian’s “step taken against the constitutional order.”