The protest stems from remarks which Pashinian made in the Armenian parliament on April 13 in response to continuing opposition criticism of his handling of the devastating war that left at least 3,800 Armenian soldiers dead.
“They say now, ‘Could they have averted the war?’” he told lawmakers. “They could have averted the war, as a result of which we would have had the same situation, but of course without the casualties.”
The remarks angered the families of some of the fallen soldiers. They said that Pashinian publicly admitted deliberately sacrificing thousands of lives and must be held accountable for that.
A group of them submitted a formal “crime report” to Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General on April 18. Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian said afterwards that although he does not think that the prime minister admitted to any crime he forwarded the report to another law-enforcement agency which is investigating senior government and military officials’ actions during the six-week war.
Davtian addressed on Tuesday more than a hundred relatives of fallen soldiers who rallied outside the prosecutors’ headquarters after marching through the center of Yerevan.
“If we had ceded parts of our homeland without a fight, should have there also been an indictment by the same logic?” he told the angry protesters, questioning their demands.
The protesters were not convinced by that argument. They jeered the country’s chief prosecutor as he made his way back into the building.
“None of us is satisfied with what we heard,” said one woman who lost her son during the war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire in November 2020.
“What was Pashinian afraid of [before the war?]” asked the father of another fallen soldier. “Of being called a traitor? They now say worse things about him.”
Virtually all Armenian opposition groups hold Pashinian responsible for Armenia’s defeat in the war with Azerbaijan. For his part, Pashinian has put the blame on former Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian, who now lead two of those groups.
Kocharian ruled Armenia from 1998-2008, while Sarkisian, his successor, lost power more than two years before the outbreak of the hostilities.