On Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused members of the military of trying to start a coup after a group of military leaders called on him to resign from his position.
The BBC reports,
In its statement, the military said “the prime minister and the government are no longer able to make reasonable decisions”, according to the Armenpress.
“For a long time, the Armenian armed forces were patiently tolerating the ‘attacks’ by the incumbent government aimed at defaming the armed forces, but everything has its limits.”
The statement accused Mr Pashinyan’s government of making “serious mistakes in foreign policy” that resulted in the Armenian state being on the verge of destruction.
The prime minister fired the deputy chief of the General Staff, Tiran Khacharyan and the military put forth its declaration after Khacharyan was let go.
According to the BBC, Pashinyan told thousands of people who support him that the army “must obey the people and elected authorities.”
Pashinyan has reportedly been criticized due to his loss of a conflict with Azerbaijan last year that led to large protests. The conflict was reportedly involving an enclave that is technically accepted as belonging to Azerbaijan, but following a truce in 1994, it has been run by ethnic Armenians.
Fox News reports that earlier in the week Lt. Gen. Tiran Khacharyan “derided the prime minister’s claim that just 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded on impact.” This appears to have possibly impacted the prime minister’s decision to fire Khacharyan, which then led to the military releasing its statement.
As reported by the BBC, “During the bloody six-weeks of fighting late last year, Azerbaijan not only recaptured areas around the enclave but also took the key town of Shusha inside it. Under the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards, Azerbaijan keeps the areas it has captured. Hundreds of Russian peacekeepers are deployed in the disputed area.”
After Pashinyan signed the peace deal on November 10, protests reportedly began as people claimed that he should resign.
Fox News reports,
The Russia-brokered agreement ended 44 days of fierce fighting in which the Azerbaijani army routed Armenian forces. Pashinyan has defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The Prime Minister originally posted a video on Facebook on Thursday, saying that he saw the military’s declaration from earlier in the day as an “attempted military coup.”
Later, he was spotted with thousands of his backers, telling them, “The army is not a political institution, and attempts to involve it in political processes are unacceptable.” The BBC reports, “But he invited the opposition to hold talks on how to resolve the crisis, stressing that any change in power must take place ‘only through elections’.”
At the same time, people who oppose the prime minister gathered and, according to reporting by Fox News, “swarmed the streets of the Armenian capital, chanting ‘Nikol, you traitor!’ and ‘Nikol, resign!'”
Armenian President Armen Sargsyan reportedly asked for the people involved to “show restraint and common sense”.
Pashinyan used to be a journalist and, according to the BBC, led a “peaceful 2018 revolution in the post-Soviet state” before becoming prime minister.
Fox News reports that after the statement was issued by the military, Pashinyan fired the Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces, Onik Gasparyan.