A political party whose members stormed a police station in Yerevan in 2016 said on Friday that it will no longer support Armenia’s current government and will strive instead for snap general elections.
“It is already evident that the current authorities lack the will and capacity to carry out systemic changes,” the Sasna Tsrer party said in a statement. It said it will therefore be in “radical opposition” to them starting next year.
One of the party’s leaders, Varuzhan Avetisian, said the authorities are “on the wrong track” and “headed to destruction.” “That is why we should also play the role of putting the brakes on that destruction,” Avetisian told a news conference.
“We are not planning pre-term elections for a concrete month or day,” he said. “That would certainly be unserious. We are planning to form a national democratic pole that … will demand and, if necessary, elicit such a decision by the will of the people.”
According to the Sasna Tsrer statement, the conduct of the fresh elections must be preceded by the formation of a provisional government that will usher in a “period of tough rule” in the country.
Sasna Tsrer leaders already stated in the run-up to the December 2018 parliamentary elections that the new Armenian parliament will have to be dissolved within two years. Those statements provoked an angry response from Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. He said Sasna Tsrer members and supporters will “feel the taste of asphalt” if they attempt to destabilize the political situation.
Sasna Tsrer garnered 1.8 percent of the vote in the 2018 elections, compared with 70 percent polled by Pashinian’s My Step bloc.
Avetisian led a 31-member armed group, also called Sasna Tsrer, which seized a Yerevan police base in July 2016 to demand than then President Serzh Sarkisian free his close associate Zhirayr Sefilian and step down. The gunmen laid down their weapons after a two-week standoff with security forces which left three police officers dead.
All but two members of the armed group were set free pending the outcome of their trials shortly after Sarkisian was toppled in the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” led by Pashinian.
The two members remaining behind bars stand accused of killing the policemen. They deny the accusations. Avetisian described them as “political prisoners.”