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Armenian Deputy Speaker Unfazed By Impending Ouster


Armenia - Ishkhan Saghatelian (second from right) and other opposition lawmakers lead an anti-government rally in Yerevan, May 18, 2022.

Ishkhan Saghatelian, a deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, on Wednesday shrugged off the ruling Civil Contract party’s decision to strip him and another opposition leader of their parliamentary posts.

Saghatelian also made clear that the main opposition Hayastan alliance, of which he is a senior member, have no plans yet to end a more than two-month boycott of sessions of the National Assembly and its standing committees.

“We will go back to the parliament only with our agenda,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Hayastan and the second parliamentary opposition force, Pativ Unem, began the boycott in April in advance of their daily demonstrations demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation. They decided to scale back the protests earlier this month after failing to topple Pashinian.

Armenia - Opposition supporters demonstrate in France Square, Yerevan, May 3, 2022.
Armenia - Opposition supporters demonstrate in France Square, Yerevan, May 3, 2022.

Leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority have threatened to strip lawmakers representing Hayastan and Pativ Unem of their parliament seats for absenteeism. They announced no decisions to that effect after a meeting of Civil Contract’s parliamentary group held on Tuesday.

The group said instead that it will oust Saghatelian and Hayastan’s Vahe Hakobian as deputy speaker and chairman of the parliament committee on economic issues respectively.

Artur Hovannisian, a senior Civil Contract parliamentarian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Wednesday that the two oppositionists will be formally relieved of their duties by September. He said they themselves stopped performing those duties.

“We have seen either an empty chair or a silent Ishkhan Saghatelian sitting on it,” said Hovannisian. “Such a deputy speaker hampers our work with his inactivity.”

Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian (center), Ishkhan Saghatelian (right) and Vahe Hakobian at an election campaign rally in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.
Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharian (center), Ishkhan Saghatelian (right) and Vahe Hakobian at an election campaign rally in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.

“They work against the Republic of Armenia,” Saghatelian shot back. “If I have managed to impede their work, then that’s wonderful. They must expect more severe blows soon.”

“Civil Contract must not talk about things like professional skills, experience or knowledge,” he went on. “They are so far from these things. Since their lifetime aim was to grab state posts they think that they can hurt me or my colleagues in this way. They don’t understand that it’s so secondary to us right now.”

The opposition forces accuse Pashinian of planning to make sweeping concessions to Azerbaijan that would place Nagorno-Karabakh under Azerbaijani control and jeopardize the very existence of Armenia. They are scheduled to hold another antigovernment rally in Yerevan on Friday.

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