Campaigning in his native Tavush province, Pashinian again said that the upcoming general elections must end the “velvet revolution” that brought him to power in 2018 and mark the beginning of a “steel revolution” involving tougher methods of governance.
“What does the steel revolution mean?” he said during a campaign rally. “It means strengthening institutions of law enforcement, it means a dictatorship of the law, and we will go down that path with your mandate.”
Pashinian similarly asked Armenians last week to not just reelect him and his Civil Contract party but also “replace the velvet mandate with a steel mandate” so that his administration can get tougher on the country’s former leaders and their loyalists challenging his rule.
The prime minister has repeatedly complained that he has been too tolerant of them since the 2018 regime change despite what he regularly describes as their corrupt practices and other abuses committed while in power.
Former Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian lead two of the main opposition groups running in the snap elections slated for June 20. They both have been facing what they see as politically motivated corruption charges in separate trials that appear to have stalled in recent months.
Dozens of other former government officials have also been charged with corruption during Pashinian’s rule. But virtually none of them is known to have been convicted by court.
Kocharian and especially Sarkisian have harshly criticized Pashinian during the ongoing parliamentary race, prompting furious reactions from the latter.
Pashinian pledged on Tuesday to “purge” the state bureaucracy and wage “political vendettas” against local government officials supporting the Armenian opposition if he wins the elections. Opposition representatives dismissed those statements, saying that they exposed his fears of losing power.
Pashinian again attacked the country’s former rulers during his campaign trip to Tavush.