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Pashinian Vows Post-Election ‘Vendettas’


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at a campaign rally in Armavir, June 7, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Tuesday pledged to “purge” the state bureaucracy and wage “political vendettas” against local government officials supporting the Armenian opposition if he wins the June 20 parliamentary elections.

“There will be staff purges and the staff purges will target those officials who took advantage of the 2018 revolution to huddle in the corridors of the people’s power and play the role of Trojan horses during all this time,” Pashinian said during a campaign trip to Armenia’s central Aragatsotn province.

“Give us the mandate to carry out the staff purges and we will throw the ‘Trojan horses’ out of Armenia’s state governance system,” he said in a fiery speech.

Pashinian went on to promise a tough crackdown on heads of local communities and private entities who he claimed are forcing their subordinates to attend campaign rallies held by his political opponents.

“I want to make it clear that after the elections there will be vendettas against those heads of communities and entities … who are trying to coerce people,” he told supporters rallying in the town of Talin.

“I’m not talking about physical violence. I’m talking about political and civil vendettas,” he added.

Pashinian did not name any individuals or produce evidence of such coercion. He said only that he has seen photographs of ordinary Armenians present at opposition rallies. He said their facial expressions suggest that they attended the rallies against their will.

Opposition parties and blocs running in the snap elections claim that the Armenian authorities themselves are forcing civil servants, schoolteachers and other public sector employees to attend campaign gatherings organized by Pashinian and his Civil Contract party. They say the prime minister also broke the law by holding rallies before the official start on Monday of campaigning for the polls.

Pashinian already pledged to purge Armenia’s government, judiciary and security apparatus of “remnants” of the country’s former leadership in April 2020. He accused them of trying to discredit him and scuttle his far-reaching initiatives.

Campaigning in another Aragatsotn town on Tuesday, Pashinian likened Armenia under his rule to “paradise.” “Our challenge is to notice our own paradise,” he declared.

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