Amid continuing opposition criticism of his handling of the coronavirus crisis, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian claimed on Thursday that his political foes themselves may have contributed to the rapid spead of the disease in Armenia.
“I think that after overcoming the epidemic or even before that we must investigate the behavior of many political forces during the epidemic,” Pashinian told a news conference. “We must investigate and publicly conclude to what extent their actions helped the country overcome the epidemic and, conversely, to what extent they contributed to the spread of the epidemic.”
“I think it will make sense to conduct some investigation to understand whether or not some political circles were involved in the spread of false rumors,” he said.
“Even in the most democratic countries, individuals and forces engaged in subversive activities are subjected to appropriate evaluations in times of war. Let nobody doubt that those forces whose subversive activities will be proven will receive a very concrete and popular evaluation,” added Pashinian.
Pashinian already predicted on Wednesday the “political death” of opposition groups demouncing his and his government’s response to the epidemic. He made the latest comments in response to more such criticism voiced by the two opposition parties represented in the Armenian parliament.
The Bright Armenia and Prosperous Armenia parties as well as other, more outspoken opposition groups hold the authorities responsible for 14.669 coronavirus cases and at least 245 deaths caused by them in the country of about 3 million. Some of them say that the authorities never properly enforced a lockdown imposed in late March and lifted it too soon.
Pashinian defended his administration’s record on COVID-19, saying that it is not worse than that of many other countries. “In the fight against coronavirus Armenia has lost as much as the [entire] world has,” he declared.
Health Minister Arsen Torosian, another target of the opposition criticism, on Wednesday apologized to Armenians for “mistakes” which he said may have been made by him and the authorities. Torosian sought to rationalize his dismissive statements about COVID-19 made early this year, saying that the world knew very little about the new virus and health risks posed by it.