The 29-year-old Anna Grigorian took up a vacant seat in the National Assembly two years after participating in the last Armenian parliamentary elections on the My Step ticket. She replaced a pro-government lawmaker who resigned last month.
“I believe that a government defeated in the war [in Nagorno-Karabakh] must inevitably resign,” Grigorian told reporters after being sworn in as a parliament deputy.
In that regard, Grigorian dismissed Pashinian’s offer to hold snap parliamentary elections to resolve a political crisis sparked by Armenia’s defeat in the recent war. She said such polls must be held by a new, interim government made up of “technocrats.”
Accordingly, she did not endorse a caretaker prime minister nominated by an alliance of Armenian opposition parties campaigning for Pashinian’s resignation. “I do not support any political force right now,” she stressed.
Four other deputies affiliated with My Step quit the parliament’s pro-government majority shortly after the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the six-week war on November 10. Their and Grigorian’s defections reduced to 83 the number of seats officially controlled by Pashinian’s bloc in the 132-member legislature.
The defectors have drawn stern rebukes from senior lawmakers remaining loyal to Pashinian. Deputy parliament speaker Alen Simonian questioned their legitimacy on Monday, saying that they owe their parliament seats to the prime minister’s popularity.
“It is very doubtful that many, many people would sit in the National Assembly if it wasn’t for Nikol Pashinian, the main driving force of [My Step’s landslide victory in] the last elections,” said Simonian.
Grigorian dismissed the criticism while acknowledging Pashinian’s personal contribution to her performance in the December 2018 elections.
“I want to remind that I was elected from an individual constituency,” she said. “I got more than 5,500 votes and a large part of them were given to me as an individual and to the team which I represented.”
Grigorian represents a constituency in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province which was directly affected by the recent war.
Many Syunik residents have been angered by Armenian troop withdrawals from adjacent districts southwest of Karabakh, which were handed back to Azerbaijan as part of the ceasefire deal, and ensuing Armenian-Azerbaijani border delimitations. They say that they can no longer feel safe because Azerbaijani forces are now deployed dangerously close to their communities.
The mayors of virtually all Syunik towns have issued statements demanding Pashinian’s resignation. Some of them organized protests that forced the prime minister to cut short on December 21 a trip to the mountainous region.