Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accused Armenia’s former rulers of trying to obstruct his anti-corruption efforts and spreading “fake news” when he addressed the UN General Assembly late on Wednesday.
“Our democratic transformation and zero tolerance policy against corruption are not without resistance from former corrupted elites,” Pashinian said in a speech. “Their vast financial resources are directed at escaping justice. Our government has not pursued a single case of redistribution of property. At the same time our resolve to press with reforms and justice is unwavering.”
“Our mass media is completely free from government control or interference,” he went on. “However, some of them are not free from meddling and control from the same old circles of former government, fabricating fake news and spreading mistrust in the public about the origins and purposes of the Velvet Revolution.”
Meeting with Armenian Americans in New York earlier in the day, Pashinian pointed to several former officials, including a brother of former President Serzh Sarkisian, who have been charged with corruption since he swept to power in the April-May 2018 revolution.
Armen Ashotian, the deputy chairman of Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), denounced Pashinian on Thursday for bringing up domestic political issues at the UN body.
“Nikol is a rare leader who has used the UN rostrum for his internal political agenda,” said Ashotian. “For example, it didn’t occur to [U.S. President Donald] Trump to attack the Democrats who have launched impeachment proceedings against him.”
“I hope that another person will speak on behalf of our country at the UN next year,” he wrote on Facebook.
Ashotian and other HHK figures reacted in a similar fashion after Pashinian branded Sarkisian and his relatives a “professionally corrupt family” and said they “must return what they plundered” at a September 22 news conference in Los Angeles.
In the 30-minute UN speech, Pashinian also said that his government is committed to “advance democracy and reforms” but needs greater international assistance in that endeavor.
“We need to have access to international best practices to save time and resources,” he said. “We need to avoid the mistakes previously made by other democracies to make our democratic reforms more fruitful and efficient.”