Daily news summary for January 18 is available here.
PM’s office and public administration system need to restart - Pashinyan
‘All of us and the public administration system, in general, as the entity responsible for the situation in the country, have gone through difficult times,’ Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan said when introducing newly appointed Chief of the Office Arsen Torosyan to its members, PM’s office reports.
Speaking about the challenges caused by the 2020 Nagorno Karabakh war, Pashinyan noted that the public administration system, just like the whole society, has undergone a shock. ‘The public administration system needs to restart, and that restart should definitely start with the Prime Minister's Office,’ Pashinyan said. According to him, a new benchmark in the system of public administration must be set, which implies better services for the population.
In response, outgoing Chief of Staff Eduard Aghajanyan thanked the PM for his trust. ‘It is obvious that we went through difficult days together, but we can state that we have definitely overcome those difficult days with honor,’ former Chief of Staff said.
Prosecutors are under government’s influence - Armenian ex-president’s defence
Armenia’s ex-President Robert Kocharyan, who was in power from 1998 to 2008, appeared in a Yerevan Court on Monday to attend another hearing over an alleged criminal case on ‘overthrowing the constitutional order’.
Kocharyan’s defence filed a motion for recusal of the Prosecutors arguing that they are under the influence of the government, since PM Pashinyan can invite the Prosecutors any time and discuss the process of criminal cases which is against the legal norms, Sputnik Armenia reports.
As Panorama.am reports, dozens of citizens gathered outside the court building for a protest with posters, reading ‘Authorities who sold Shushi versus Heroes who liberated Shushi’.
In 2008 when Kocharyan’s ally Serzh Sargsyan was elected the next president, massive public protests started disputing the results of the elections. Eight protesters and two police officers were killed as a result of clashes and violent actions by the police. According to Armenia’s Special Investigation Service, Kocharyan and his team used military units against protesters. Nikol Pashinyan, who was one of the organisers of the protesters and Armenia’s 1st president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s ally in 2008, was arrested and spent two years in prison.
Kocharyan, who left politics in 2008 and immersed into business in Moscow, where he has an extensive network, was detained in 2018 in Yerevan. Kocharyan denied the accusations calling them an act of political revenge. He was released in 2020 on more than a $4M bail which, according to his lawyers, is ‘unprecedented’ in Armenia.
Seyran Ohanyan, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces in 2008, general Yuri Khachaturov, a former CSTO secretary-general who served as Deputy Minister of Defense in 2008, and former Secretary of the Security Council Armen Gevorgyan were also charged over the same criminal case.
Other news from Armenia
- Foreign Defence Ministry Seyran Ohanyan said that the January 11 meeting between Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Russian leaders did not resolve the challenges the Armenian side has been faced, including the issue of PoWs, am reports. Ohanyan, who participated in both the first and second wars in Nagorno Karabakh, added that the leadership in Armenia easily falls under the influence of Azerbaijan, and therefore they need to be replaced with someone with a firm hand.
Ohanyan also expressed his doubts over the benefits of unblocking regional transport connections saying that this will be followed by aggressive economic pressure by Azerbaijan and Turkey and attempts by them to drastically change the demographic situation in Armenia.
- Opposition Bright Armenia party leader Edmon Marukyan said today that amid a severe political crisis, the Armenian government impedes the consultations, seizes the position of the head of NA Standing committee from the opposition, and declares that the most prominent challenge for the country is the parliamentary elections. According to him, the conditions created by the ruling majority makes it impossible for the opposition to contribute to the overcoming of the challenges.
- Armenian Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan received today Ambassador of Germany to Armenia Michael Johannes Banzhaf, am reports. Tatoyan raised issues relating to the rights of Armenian servicemen and civilians who are in the Azerbaijani captivity and their immediate return. He told the Ambassador that the Azerbaijani authorities are artificially delaying the process of returning the Armenian POWs and exchanging the bodies of the dead.
Photo: RFE/RL's Armenian service