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Lawmaker Quits Pro-Government Faction Over Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis


Vardan Atabekian

A lawmaker elected to the Armenian National Assembly on the slate of an alliance led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has announced his quitting the pro-government faction over the ongoing political crisis over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In a statement released late on Thursday Vardan Atabekian said that while he leaves the My Step faction, he will keep his mandate in order to work towards ending the crisis.

Atabekian said that “like the overwhelming majority of the people it was from the media that I learned about the statement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan regarding Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The news of the Russian-brokered agreement with Azerbaijan putting an end to six weeks of deadly fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh mostly on Baku’s terms sparked disturbances in Armenia on November 10 followed by a political crisis as the opposition began to stage rallies and demand Prime Minister Pashinian’s resignation and annulment of the deal.

A loose alliance of 17 opposition parties also demanded a special session of parliament to be convened over the crisis. It also urged members of the majority My Step faction which refused “to take part in any sessions aimed at destabilizing the situation” to join the movement aimed at removing Pashinian from power.

Atabekian said that he will not give up his mandate and will continue to serve as a member of parliament not affiliated with any faction.

“In my further activities I will focus on efforts to quit the current situation with as few losses as possible and solve problems of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is due to this that I am not giving up my mandate,” the lawmaker explained.

Meanwhile, the opposition has vowed to continue its rallies despite warnings from authorities that political gatherings are banned under the current martial law.

In what Pashinian critics view as political persecution over a dozen opposition leaders were arrested earlier this week mainly on charges of organizing mass disorders.

Courts later ruled that several of the arrested politicians, including Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian and Homeland Party leader Artur Vanetsian, be released.

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