They said this is another reason why Pashinian must resign four years after coming to power in a popular uprising.
Security camera footage publicized by Armenian media showed that the 28-year-old woman, Sona Mnatsakanian, was struck by a police SUV while crossing a street in downtown Yerevan on Tuesday. The vehicle drove on after throwing the pedestrian several meters away. Its driver was arrested later on Tuesday.
Nor did any of the seven other cars carrying Pashinian, his bodyguards and other security personnel stop to try to help Mnatsakanian.
Pashinian has still not publicly commented on the unprecedented accident. He did not mention it during a weekly session of his cabinet held on Thursday.
The deputy chief of Pashinian’s staff, Taron Chakhoyan, said late on Wednesday, that the prime minister noticed a “fallen woman” when his limousine drove past her. Pashinian “gave appropriate orders to the health minister and law-enforcement officials” after finding out that she was hit by the police vehicle escorting him, Chakhoyan wrote on Facebook.
The government official claimed that the motorcade would have caused a traffic jam and made it harder for an ambulance to reach the victim had it stopped right after the deadly collision.
Opposition figures and other critics of the Armenian government dismissed such explanations.
“Would the [arrested] police major have stopped right after the collision had he not escorted Nikol Pashinian?” said Artur Ghazinian, a parliament deputy from the main opposition Hayastan alliance. “He would have definitely stopped … and quickly taken [the victim] to the hospital located 300 meters away.”
“Now who is more to blame, the car driver or Nikol Pashinian?” Ghazinian asked, clearly putting the blame on the prime minister.
The accident came as Hayastan and other opposition groups geared up for mass protests aimed at toppling Pashinian over what they see as sweeping concessions to Azerbaijan planned by him.
“What else should [Pashinian] do to get people to take to the streets?” Ishkhan Saghatelian, a senior Hayastan figure, said, commenting on the young woman’s death.
“This citizen must be our last victim,” Saghatelian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “He [Pashinian] must simply resign.”
Gevorg Papoyan, a parliament deputy from the ruling Civil Contract party, responded by accusing the opposition of dishonestly exploiting the accident for political purposes. Papoyan also said Pashinian “did not know that an accident occurred” when his motorcade raced through Yerevan.