Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian claimed over the weekend that Armenian law-enforcement authorities have thwarted a “hybrid” conspiracy to discredit and overthrow him which he said was hatched by former and current state officials.
“We can call it hybrid preparations for a coup, and we can now talk about that because that process is fully and irreversibly defeated and crushed,” he told a news conference held in the southeastern town of Kapan.
Pashinian said that the alleged conspiracy involved “tens of millions of dollars” spent on the spread of “false information” about him, his family members and associates.
“And that was done through the criminal underworld, various forces, corrupt figures,” he went on. “Why does the word ‘coup’ match this process? Because this process was joined by serving officials who acted against the government while being inside the government. Former officials and some representatives of the judicial system were also involved in that.”
Pashinian did not name anyone or give other details of the alleged plot, saying only that it was “neutralized” by Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) and police several months ago.
“Don’t ask me to name names because I did name names,” he said. “Just save me from the displeasure of uttering concrete names and surnames.”
In a January 11 article, a newspaper controlled Pashinian’s family, “Haykakan Zhamanak,” accused former NSS Director Artur Vanetsian of organizing a smear campaign against the family. It said that the campaign was masterminded by a former senior official linked to Mikael Minasian, former President Serzh Sarkisian’s son-in-law.
Hrachya Hakobian, a pro-government parliamentarian and Pashinian’s brother-in-law, alleged afterwards that Vanetsian was sacked in September because he was plotting a coup. Commenting on that statement, the NSS said that it is not aware of any coup attempts and will not look into Hakobian’s claims.
Vanetsian, who has not been charged with any crimes so far, denounced the “Haykakan Zhamanak” article as slanderous and threatened to file a libel suit against the paper.
The former NSS chief also scoffed at Pashinian’s latest remarks, tweeting later on Saturday that such “emotional outbursts” are fraught with “very undesirable consequences” for Armenia. He went further in another tweet posted on Sunday, saying that the ruling Civil Contract party should consider replacing the prime minister.
Vanetsian was an influential member of Pashinian’s entourage until he was unexpectedly fired for still unclear reasons.