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Armenian Ruling Party Schedules Post-Election Rallies


Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian holds an election campaign rally in Gegharkunik province, June 12, 2021.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party confirmed on Monday that it is planning to hold daylong rallies in Yerevan for four consecutive days right after Armenia’s June 20 general elections.

Municipal authorities have allowed it to simultaneously rally supporters in the city’s two largest squares from June 21 through June 24. Each of those rallies can start at 10 a.m. and last until midnight.

Campaigning in Yerevan’s Malatia-Sebastia district on Monday, Pashinian urged supporters to converge on Republic Square on June 21 to celebrate his and his party’s election victory which he said will mark another “revolution” in Armenia.

Neither he nor his associates explained the rationale for staging more demonstrations in the following days.

“When the purpose of the events is decided … we will announce that,” a senior Civil Contract figure, Vahagn Hovakimian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Hovakimian also did not clearly explained why the ruling party has reserved two squares at a time for demonstrations. No Armenian political force is known to have done that before.

Some opposition figures and other critics of the Armenian government speculated that Pashinian is making contingency plans for his possible defeat in the early elections. In that case, they claimed, his supporters could put pressure on the Central Election Commission or provoke violent clashes with opposition protesters to have such vote results annulled.

Pashinian has repeatedly said on the campaign trail that he expects his party to garner at least 60 percent of the vote.

Former President Robert Kocharian warned late last month that the opposition Hayastan alliance led by him will stage street protests if the Armenian authorities rig the upcoming elections. Other opposition forces have also not ruled out post-election protests.

Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan's Nor Nork district, June 9, 2021.
Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan's Nor Nork district, June 9, 2021.

Both Hayastan and Civil Contract have secured the Yerevan municipality’s permission to organize rallies on Friday, the last day of official campaigning, raising fears that violence could break out even before election day.

Hayastan was initially allowed to hold its June 18 rally until 8 p.m. Acting on the opposition bloc’s appeal, a Yerevan court ruled that the rally can last until 9 p.m. The Civil Contract demonstration is to start later that evening.

Aram Vardevanian, a Hayastan spokesman, criticized the ruling party’s decision to schedule its Republic Square gathering for the same evening. He said the Armenian police warned the municipality against authorizing rival rallies in the same venue and on the same day.

“We will do everything to prevent clashes,” insisted Civil Contract’s Hovakimian.

Nina Karapetiants, a civil rights activist, said the risk of such violence will be high and the two bitter rivals are recklessly ignoring it.

Karapetiants also denounced Pashinian’s “unacceptable” pre-election rhetoric and accused the prime minister of adopting the “worst” campaigning methods of Armenia’s former leaders harshly criticized by him.

“The lies and insults will not help him,” she said. “I think the people will make a right choice.”

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