Armenia’s prime minister and military leadership are squaring off in what the former is calling an attempted coup, following the Armed Forces General Staff’s calls for the immediate resignation of Nikol Pashinyan and his government cabinet, reports News.am.
The General Staff released its demands in a letter signed by 40 senior military officers. The letter says Pashinyan’s decision to remove Lieutenant General Tiran Khachatryan as first deputy chief of the General Staff was made for “short-sighted and unfounded reasons.”
Armenia’s prime minister responded to the demands in a Facebook post, saying he considers the General Staff’s announcement to be “an attempted military coup.” “I invite all our supporters now to Republic Square [in Yerevan]. Very soon, I’ll be making a public address in a live broadcast,” wrote Pashinyan, who later announced that he’s removed Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan as chief of Armenia’s General Staff. Gasparyan then also signed the military’s letter to Pashinyan and his cabinet.
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, some of Pashinyan’s opponents soon assembled near the Defense Ministry’s building, chanting slogans like “Pashinyan is a traitor!” and “Nikol, go away!” Neil Hauer, a Canadian journalist who lives in Yerevan, noted on Twitter that there is no evidence yet of a military coup in action. “No military vehicles on the street, no sign police are disloyal, [and] no statement of intent by [the] military to take power,” he wrote.
At the time of this writing, Armenia’s Defense Ministry had not commented on the General Staff’s demands.
Lieutenant General Tiran Khachatryan lost his position in the General Staff after contradicting Prime Minister Pashinyan’s claims that Armenia’s arsenal of Russian-made “Iskander” short-range ballistic missile systems “failed to detonate or detonated only 10 percent of the time” during last year’s war with Azerbaijan. Asked by Yerevan Today about the prime minister’s remarks, Khachatryan “laughed for a long time” and then said, “That’s impossible.”
Since November 2020, following the Armenian military’s capitulation in a war with Azerbaijan over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Pashinyan has faced regular mass protests demanding his government’s resignation.