Campaigning in the northern Armenia city of Vanadzor on Monday, Sarkisian also accused Pashinian of being ready to provoke a “civil war” in order to stay in power.
Pashinian has brandished a hammer during his campaign rallies held in recent days, saying that it symbolizes a “steel mandate” which he hopes to receive from voters on election day.
“Right after the elections we will go after you with this mandate. Don’t tell us later that we didn’t warn you,” he said at one of those rallies, appealing to Armenia’s former leaders and other opposition forces challenging him in the elections.
“You see what he is holding in his hand, don’t you?” a visibly furious Sarkisian told supporters of the Pativ Unem bloc in Vanadzor. “I guess he wants someone to take it from his hand and bang it on his head so that he understands what it is.”
“I have said at one of our meetings that we must counter his ‘steel revolution’ with a shield made of a firmer substance and hold a truncheon in another hand so that we bang it on the head of anyone approaching us with a hammer,” he said. “There is no other option. What else can we do?”
Pashinian kept demonstrating his hammer and doubled down on his threats during a campaign trip to Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province on Tuesday. He specifically attacked the elected mayors of most Syunik towns and villages who demanded his resignation following Armenia’s defeat in the autumn war with Azerbaijan.
“With this thing we will be taking out those rusty nails, upstarts huddling in various municipalities from many places, including this place,” he told supporters rallying in the town of Sisian, also run by an anti-Pashinian mayor.
Many of the local community heads defying the prime minister are affiliated with another opposition alliance led by former President Robert Kocharian. Pashinian was insulted and jeered by their protesting supporters when he toured Syunik in April.
The premier travelled to the region this time around in a motorcade of hundreds of cars carrying his own supporters from other parts of the country.
The blocs led by the two former presidents are among the main opposition election contenders trying to unseat Pashinian.
Sarkisian’s Pativ Unem consists of his Republican Party and the Fatherland Party of former National Security Service Director Artur Vanetsian. The latter tops the list of its election candidates.
The ex-president, who was toppled in the Pashinian-led “velvet revolution” in 2018, is not among those candidates. Nevertheless, he has taken the center stage in Pativ Unem’s election campaign.
Unlike other major contenders, the bloc holds only indoor meetings with activists and supporters which are not announced beforehand. Journalists are not allowed to attend them and have to content themselves with video clips of those gatherings released by Pativ Unem.
Some of those videos have showed Sarkisian, Vanetsian and their political allies walking in the streets in and outside Yerevan and talking to local residents.