9 June, 2018 11:38

Armenia: Week in Motion, June 4-9

Nikol Pashinyan’s Government Program Approved by the National Assembly

On June 7, the Armenian parliament approved Nikol Pashinyan's government program with 62 in favor, 39 against, and 0 abstentions. On June 6, exactly one day before the government program was submitted for Parliament approval, the Republican faction lost its absolute majority in Parliament. The most recent to depart was Samvel Aleksanyan, a business tycoon. This reduced the number of deputies of the Republican faction to 52 with the remaining 53 representing various factions and independents.  

A special section of the government program is devoted to organizing snap parliamentary elections. It also attaches importance to the fight against corruption, equality of all before the law, the elimination of monopolies and the establishment of free economic competition, as well as a deepening of ties with the Diaspora.

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With a Magic Wand: Nikol Pashinyan’s Government Program Approved by Parliament

Republicans Lose Absolute Majority in Parliament as Armenian Tycoon Leaves the Faction

A series of defections leaves Armenia's parliament in Pashinyan’s hands

Protests and Resignations in Nagorno Karabakh

On June 6, State Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh Arayik Harutyunyan announced his resignation. This resignation came after several days of protests in Stepanakert, with the protesters demanding the resignation of the Chief of Police and the Head of the National Security Service.

Protests began as a result of an incident between the servicemen of the national security agency and two civilians. The national security officials beat up the two individuals, while police looked on. The police eventually detained the two civilians, but not those inflicting violence.

The protesters did not demand the resignation of the State Minister. They had demanded the resignation of the heads of power agencies, and indeed, the chiefs of Police and National Security Service also resigned. Grigori Martirosyan was appointed State Minister, leaving his position of Finance Minister.

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Top Officials Leave Nagorno Karabakh Government

Protests in Karabakh: How Did it Happen?

Stepanakert: Aftershocks of Armenia’s Political Earthquake

A Momentum Not to Be Missed

Mass Unrest in Stepanakert

Pashinyan effect spreads to Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenian Foreign Minister Visits Moscow

Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan visited Moscow and met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on June 6.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was the chief negotiator and architect of the Association Agreement between Armenia and the European Union. In 2013, however, Armenia’s then-President Serzh Sargsyan unexpectedly backed away from the agreement and Armenia overnight decided to become a member of the Russia-led Customs Union, now-called the Eurasian Economic Union.

In Moscow, Mnatsakanyan reaffirmed Armenia's adherence to its foreign policy direction, membership to the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union.

At the joint press conference, Sergei Lavrov commented on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's statement on the return of Nagorno-Karabakh to the negotiation table. According to Lavrov, if at any stage Armenia and Azerbaijan reach such an agreement, Russia will respect their decision.

Presenting the Government program on the same day in Armenian Parliament, Prime Minister Pashinyan touched upon that issue again, saying that he can not negotiate on behalf of Karabakh. Baku labelled Pashinyan’s statement as “a step aimed at breaking the negotiation process and maintaining a destructive status quo.”

In an interview with the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Mnatsakanyan repeated that he attaches importance to the strategic partnership with Russia and noted that Armenia develops its relations with Russia and other countries without one being detrimental to another.

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Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s interview to Kommersant newspaper, in Russian, in Armenian.

Sasna Tsrer Calls Off Armed Struggle

Sasna Tsrer, the armed group that seized the police station in Yerevan in 2016, released a statement on June 5 that "they’re calling off the armed struggle and will support Nikol Pashinyan’s government. Now we have a government that enjoys the people's trust.”

On July 17 2016, members of the group carried out an armed attack on Yerevan’s Erebuni Police Station. They broke into the gate with a truck, three policemen were killed as a result of clashes. The 31 members of the group kept the police station under siege for 15 days, after which they surrendered. They are charged with seizure of police property with the use of illegal weapons, as well as hostage taking, and destruction of property by means of illegal weapons. Two of them were charged with the  murder of the three policemen. 

Five members of the group have since been released from detention.

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Sasna Tsrer Calls off Armed Struggle and Will Support Nikol Pashinyan

Arman MkrtumyanA Parade of Resignations in Armenia

The week was marked with a series of resignations. Arman Mkrtumyan, head of the Cassation Court, resigned after heading the top judicial institution for ten years and having served another ten years as a senior judge. The Court of Cassation and Mkrtumian in particular have long been the main target of complaints by Armenia’s trial attorneys. The latter have accused Mkrtumian of severely limiting the independence of the lower courts.

Another significant judicial resignation was that of the head of the Special Investigation Service, Vahram Shahinyan. He notes in his statement that during the five years in office, he has remained committed to his most important mission: the anti-corruption strategy. It is noteworthy that no high-ranking official in Armenia, despite the numerous corruption disclosures in the press, has been held accountable.

Additionally, the head of the State Social Security Service, Republican party member Hovhannes Sahakyan, the head of the State Committee of Water System Arsen Harutyunyan, as well as the governor of Armavir Ashot Ghahramanyan resigned.

By government decree, Martin Sargsyan, the chairman of the State Committee of Real Estate Cadastre and Narek Sargsyan, the Chairman of the State Urban Development Committee were dismissed.

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Top Armenian Judge Resigns

Zara Poghosyan