Can Pashinyan leave opposition without its leaders
Armenian President Armen Sargsyan signed a decree on holding a referendum on constitutional amendments on April 5, which provides for the early resignation of members and the chairman of the Constitutional Court (CC). Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan repeatedly accused the head of the Constitutional Court Hrayr Tovmasyan of having been elected through falsification, while Tovmasyan, for his part, claimed that the authorities were engaged in his political persecution. In a situation the observer of the "Bulletin of the Caucasus" Mamikon Babayan understood.
Any government is inevitably preoccupied with two problems - the restoration of the old regime and the emergence of a new opposition force. Ensuring one's own political security requires well-thought-out decisions and the correct identification of the main threats. This is the reason for the political activity in Armenia at the beginning of this year - Nikol Pashinyan is concerned about the actions of the former head of the National Security Council of Armenia Artur Vanetsyan and the current chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic Hrayr Tovmasyan, who openly criticize the prime minister’s policy, in every possible way showing him distrust.
Arthur Vanetsyan is a classic cadre Armenian security official whose reputation at the time of being appointed head of the NSS did not differ from the reputation of hundreds of ordinary deputy heads of departments. Before the "velvet revolution" he was on the sidelines in the power structures of the republic. After the events of spring 2018, Vanetsyan became the head of the Republican Security Service and one of Pashinyan's closest associates. In 2018, Pashinyan could not yet challenge the power services of Armenia, so he sought support among those with whom he was ready to share his popularity. Perhaps he regretted it - a propaganda campaign that began with the pages of the Haykakan Zhamanak newspaper, owned by the Pashinyan’s family, suddenly turned an ally into a national traitor and conspirator.
By the way, Vanetsyan himself tried to announce in numerous interviews that he remains one of the most informed people in Armenia, is well aware of the details of the scenario of a change of power and knows the true curators of Pashinyan.
Former head of the National Security Council of Armenia intends to create his own political party and become an opposition to the current government. Given the connections, charisma, opportunities and experience of the security official, Vanetsyan will not miss the opportunity to consolidate the opposition around him, especially since in the eyes of the Armenian public his image over the years of service in the security structures has not suffered.
Another equally dangerous opponent of Pashinyan - the chairman of the Constitutional Court Hrayr Tovmasyan - a man who prevented the Constitutional Court from passing under the control of the new government. It was Tovmasyan who refused to resign and did not support the fast paperwork regarding the investigative ex-president of Armenia Robert Kocharian.
A year ago, it seemed to Pashinyan that, in the wake of his popular popularity, high Armenian officials would seek the opportunity to enter the prime minister’s circle of trust in order to maintain their posts. However, it was the conflict between Pashinyan and the Constitutional Court that demonstrated the prime minister’s weaknesses before the established nomenclature in Armenia, which took a wait-and-see attitude and began to observe the confrontation between Pashinyan and Kocharyan.
The eccentric populist call to block the courthouse in May 2019 did not have the desired effect and caused image losses to Pashinyan. Following Kocharyan, another ex-president of the republic, Serzh Sargsyan, was under investigation. It will be much more difficult for Pashinyan to put Sargsyan behind bars, especially since in this process the chairman of the Constitutional Court of the republic made it clear that he would not provide all the necessary support to the “people's prime minister”.
Obviously, the deprivation of Tovmasyan’s authority is a long-overdue issue, but Pashinyan does not know how to solve it as quickly and painlessly as possible. Therefore, the announced referendum on the appointment of new judges of the Constitutional Court is a necessary measure of the prime minister. It is designed to remove Hrayr Tovmasyan from the chessboard of Armenian politics and become an indicator of the real level of confidence in the prime minister. Needless to say, Pashinyan is very at risk.
In fact, neither Tovmasyan nor Vanetsyan made a deal with the prime minister, who will now strive to put both of them behind bars. In case of failure, the Prime Minister can create the conditions in which Vanetsyan and Tovmasyan will be forced to leave Armenia. Pashinyan can not calmly watch how the ratings of both his opponents are growing. If they pass for a dangerous level, Pashinyan will be forced to fight the unifying opposition himself and prove to society that he does not seek to usurp power. In the end, Pashinyan will have to argue the legality of the criminal process against Vanetsyan and Tovmasyan and prove to everyone that this is not a commonplace political persecution. Such a situation, in turn, is fraught with more serious image losses already in the eyes of international political structures, including the ECHR.
Nevertheless, Pashinyan will act because he believes that Vanetsyan and Tovmasyan are an obstacle to the final defeat of the Karabakh clan and the subsequent privatization of its property. Without this, it is impossible to proceed to the next step - the neutralization of the counter-revolution. Pashinyan will not be able to persuade all the vacillating republican officials of small and medium hands, and also completely subordinate to his will the political estate of Kocharyan and Sargsyan - the occupation regime in Karabakh until all its decisions are maximally legitimized by the new political elite of Armenia.