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Ter-Petrosian Slams Pashinian, Opposition


Armenia - Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian at his election campaign headquarters in Yerevan, 2Apr2017.

Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian has added his voice to calls for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation while condemning what he called opposition threats of a violent overthrow of Armenia’s government.

In a weekend article posted on ilur.am, Ter-Petrosian said that both Pashinian and opposition groups holding anti-government protests are putting the country at risk of “civil war” with their radical stances.

He pointed to veteran politician Vazgen Manukian’s speech at a rally held by a coalition of 16 opposition groups in Yerevan on Friday. They hold Pashinian responsible for Armenia’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan and want him to cede power to an interim government that would hold snap parliamentary elections.

Manukian, whom the opposition forces want to take over as a caretaker prime minister, said Pashinian should “realize that the sooner he willingly resigns the better it will be for him.” “If this movement does not win, furious people will rip him apart,” he warned before thousands of opposition supporters marched to the prime minister’s residence guarded by security forces.

ARMENIA -- Politician Vazgen Manukian attends an opposition rally in Yerevan, December 5, 2020
ARMENIA -- Politician Vazgen Manukian attends an opposition rally in Yerevan, December 5, 2020

Opposition leaders gave the prime minister until Tuesday to step down or face a nationwide campaign of “civil disobedience.”

Ter-Petrosian said Manukian’s speech amounted to a threat of violent regime change. He claimed that the radical opposition also demonstrated its “readiness for violence” by rallying supporters outside the government compound where Pashinian lives with his family.

The 75-year-old, who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, also hit out at Pashinian, saying that the latter is ready for “any confrontation” to cling to power in the wake of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire on November 10.

“Given the shameful and humiliating defeat inflicted on Armenia and Artsakh, Pashinian’s regime must definitely and immediately resign,” he said. “Not through internal clashes but a solely constitutional path … I am therefore calling on the people not to participate in mass unrest provoked by both the current government and the opposition.”

ARMENIA -- People attend an opposition rally in Yerevan, December 5, 2020
ARMENIA -- People attend an opposition rally in Yerevan, December 5, 2020

Like the Armenian opposition, Ter-Petrosian has been highly critical of Pashinian’s handling of the war that killed thousands of Armenian soldiers and resulted in sweeping Armenian territorial losses. He and two other former presidents, Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian, offered to negotiate with Russia in a bid stop the hostilities shortly after their outbreak on September 27.

Pashinian questioned late last month the sincerity and seriousness of the ex-presidents’ offers, prompting angry responses from all three men.

Levon Zurabian, Ter-Petrosian’s right-hand man, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier in November that Pashinian did not give the 75-year-old ex-president a “mandate” to negotiate in Moscow a better peace deal. Zurabian blamed that on Pashinian’s “insatiable and morbid vanity.”

Pashinian played a major role in Ter-Petrosian’s 2007-2008 opposition movement. He subsequently fell out with the ex-president and set up his own party.

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