Their protests were sparked by Pashinian’s remarks made on April 13 in response to continuing opposition criticism of his handling of the devastating war that left at least 3,825 Armenian soldiers dead.
“They say now, ‘Could they have averted the war?’” Pashinian told the parliament. “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 protesting families of several dozen fallen soldiers say Pashinian thus publicly admitted deliberately sacrificing thousands of lives. They submitted a relevant “crime report” to Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General on April 18.
The office instructed other law-enforcement agencies to question Pashinian and decide whether to launch criminal proceedings against the prime minister. The latter has still not been summoned by them for questioning.
The protesting relatives reportedly held a tense meeting with Argisthi Kyaramian, the head of the Investigative Committee, last month. They accused him of disrespecting and insulting them, a claim denied by the committee.
Representatives of the relatives demanded that Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian assign the case to the National Security Service when he received them during Thursday’s demonstration. They gave Davtian until Saturday to respond to their demand.
“We don’t see any progress [in the promised inquiry,]” one of the protesters told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Let them summon [Pashinian] so he answers why he made that statement.”
“They killed five thousand guys,” charged another man. “It’s treason.”
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.