The Armenian parliament did not support Nikol Pashinyan on Monday to continue serving as acting prime minister. A single deputy voted in favor, three against and 75 abstained. His own parliamentary group and two other factions did not even participate in the vote. The procedure will have to be repeated next week and, if the result remains the same, legislative elections will have to be called.
Precisely such seems to be the objective of the legislators, dissolving the Chamber and holding parliamentary elections on June 20, the date for which the presidential elections were already called last month, to which Pashinián is presented as the favorite candidate. That is why he had to resign as head of the Government on April 25. Now he is serving on an interim basis.
Last autumn’s defeat to Azerbaijan for control of the Nagorno Karabakh enclave plunged Armenia into a deep political crisis that the various parties in the country hope to overcome with the holding of elections. After a month and a half of armed confrontations, between September 27 and November 10, Pashinián accepted a cessation of hostilities, but at the cost of losing a large part of the territories that the Armenians controlled. He was branded a “traitor” and had to face for weeks the mobilizations organized by the opposition demanding his resignation. He even had a clash with the leadership of the Army.
However, now the still acting chief executive is the candidate with the best chance of winning the June presidential elections, according to the polls, and, probably, if the legislative elections take place, his political training as well. His only impediment could have been the attitude of Russia, where at first he was viewed with distrust, since Pashinián came to power through a popular revolt.
But in Moscow they do not see a better candidate than him to lead Armenia. The peace agreement signed in November with Azerbaijan, which includes the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, was promoted by President Vladimir Putin and the best way that such an agreement is not subjected to some kind of review is by ensuring that the reins of Armenia remain in the hands of Pashinián.
Russian journalist Arkadi Dubnov, a specialist in Caucasus politics, told Echo of Moscow that “Pashinyan will continue to lead Armenia.” In his opinion, “Moscow will not interfere against him in the elections.” And it is that between Moscow and Yerevan there is full harmony on key security issues.
The Russian Army has just received the green light to deploy two additional detachments at base number 102. “Two other strongholds have been installed at Russian military base 102, in the Siunik region (…) as an additional security guarantee,” declared Pashinián in his speech before Parliament. The Siunik region is a narrow strip sandwiched between Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani enclave of Nakhichevan and Iran.
Russia maintains peacekeeping forces deployed in the center of Nagorno Karabakh near the capital, Stepanakert, and has a military base in Armenia in Guiumri, 126 kilometers north of Yerevan, which has just been expanded, as well as a garrison in the same Armenian capital and a large space in the Erebuni air base, also in Yerevan. It has combat helicopters and Mig-29 fighter-bombers there.
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