Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has marked the 100th day since his sudden and unexpected rise to power by vowing to “speed up reform” in the South Caucasus nation.
Pashinian, a former activist and opposition politician who was voted into the premiership by parliament in May, told his cabinet on August 16 that, after his initial period in office, "we are entering a new stage and the main meaning of this stage is to speed up the reform."
"Quickly and effectively" implemented reforms can give the country and its economy “a new breath,” he added.
Pashinian asserted that, since taking office, his team managed to complete the main task for the period — to ensure the regular functioning of the state and continuous economic development in the postrevolution period.
Pashinian, an anticorruption campaigner, and a small group of supporters launched from the provinces their campaign against then-President Serzh Sarkisian’s continued rule on March 31.
Some two weeks later in Yerevan, that campaign turned into large street protests, eventually forcing Sarkisian, who had become prime minister by that time, to resign on April 23.
On May 8, the parliament still dominated by Sarkisian loyalists, bowed to popular pressure and pro-Pashinian sentiments countrywide and elected the protest leader as the new prime minister.
Since Pashinian’s assumption of office, law enforcement bodies have carried out a number of high-profile actions involving former leaders and those connected to them.
Former President Robert Kocharian was charged with overthrowing the constitutional order for actions during unrest after the 2008 presidential election that left 10 people dead.
Kocharian, 63, was arrested in July and held briefly, but he was released on August 13 on the orders of an appeals court in Yerevan, which said it based its decision on Article 140 of the constitution, which states that a president cannot be prosecuted for "actions deriving from his or her status."
The head of Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS), Sasun Khachatrian, on August 16, called the court’s decision on Kocharian’s release "illegal" and expressed hopes he would be rearrested in connection to the matter.
He also said former President Sarkisian will be questioned as part of the investigation into the 2008 postelection crackdown against protesters.
Members of the families of two brothers of ex-President Sarkisian and a former chief of his security service are also being prosecuted on different charges, including illegal enrichment.
In another case, retired General Manvel Grigorian, a member of parliament with the Sarkisian-led Republican Party’s faction, was stripped of his parliamentary immunity and arrested on charges of illegally keeping weapons and large-scale embezzlement.
The case against Grigorian alleges theft of army rations sent by citizens, including children, to Armenian soldiers fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh during brief 2016 clashes with Azerbaijan.
Source: Radio Free Europe