Pashinyan under pressure because of Kocharyan, Amulsar, and Karabakh...

Pashinyan under pressure because of Kocharyan, Amulsar, and Karabakh...

Latest events in Armenia hit Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. In the context of domestic political situation, which is not in favor of the current head of government, it's becoming increasingly difficult for Pashinyan to timely respond to challenges facing his team. A lot of unsolved problems may turn out to be unbearable burden for inexperienced government officials, many of whom were hastily assigned based on principle of loyalty to new government.

Number one problem of Armenian Prime Minister is associated with fateful decision of the Constitutional Court of Armenia, according to which article of the Code of Criminal Procedure, based on which authorities tried to put second President of Armenia Robert Kocharian in jail, contrary to the Constitution. According to Armenian observers, basically this decision means only one thing: Robert Kocharian will be released from bail no later than September 12, when the court of first instance decides on preventive measure, and decision of Armenian Constitutional Court will inevitably be taken as the basis for the decision. Thus, Robert Kocharian will be released for the second time in six months, which will also be the second public humiliation for Nikol Pashinyan in front of the electorate. What will be the prime minister’s response - another appeal to supporters to block the courts throughout the country? But after all, the last time such an action did not bring much success: those who took to the streets turned out to be much less than expected, and therefore its repetition seems unlikely.

Another factor is alarming: literally immediately after the decision of the Constitutional Court, Nikol Pashinyan met with the leader of the Sasna Tsrer terrorist group, Zhirair Sefilyan, who was freed from him. Sasna Tsrer members, known for the capture of the PPS regiment in Yerevan in 2016 and the assassination of police colonel Arthur Vanoyan, actively oppose the "Russian occupation" and demand the withdrawal of the 102nd Russian military base from the country. If the Armenian leader, after the decision of the Constitutional Court on a matter of fundamental importance to the authorities, holds an official meeting with a terrorist known for his hatred of Robert Kocharian to discuss “issues of mutual interest”, then it’s easy to guess what or, more precisely, who could talk about speech. The whole question is whether Pashinyan is so inadequate as to decide to lower his "chain dogs" in the person of Sasna Tsrer to Kocharyan’s sworn political enemy, or is this another bluff with anti-Russian overtones to divert public attention for a while. Given that former journalist Nikol Pashinyan is prone to bluffing and informational "soap bubbles", but also has repeatedly shown emotional instability, even as prime minister, it is difficult to unequivocally answer this question. However, continuing the topic of the anti-Russian subtext of the government’s actions, it is noteworthy that recently in Armenia they granted political asylum to the Russian nationalist radical Vitaly Shishkin, which is perceived in the expert community only as a response to the refusal to extradite officials from Russia to Armenia, in in particular, ex-defense minister Mikael Harutyunyan. Recall that getting to Harutyunyan was extremely important for the Armenian authorities to “close” Robert Kocharian. In Russia, where Pashinyan had already been warned at a high official level against a "political vendetta," they probably decided not to play along with the Armenian prime minister. The only one who won in this situation is perhaps Vitaly Shishkin himself, whose profile on social networks is full of photographs from Yerevan and declarations of love for the fascist collaborator Garegin Nzhdeh, a monument to which is installed in the center of the Armenian capital.

Another issue that occupies the team of Nikol Pashinyan is the operation of the Amulsar mine, the second largest gold deposit in the country. On this subject, the Armenian authorities, faced with fierce protests of the local population, are under enormous pressure from the United States. "A further delay in the development of the Amulsarskoye field may completely destroy the investment attractiveness of Armenia," the American Chamber of Commerce in Armenia (TPAA) warned on September 2. At the same time, the statement of the Americans expresses bewilderment, since the Lydian project is the only one for which they have been forced to conduct 3 audits, and the road to the place of its implementation is still closed. "And this is in the case that the Lydian Armenia program meets the highest international environmental and social management standards of the International Finance Corporation and the EBRD," the statement said. The Prime Minister obviously understood the hint, after which he met with the director of Lidian Armenia and went to Jermuk, where he held talks with representatives of the local population. Meanwhile, the government did not make an official decision on the Amulsar issue following the discussions on September 4. “Until we are sure, we cannot risk our nature and security, as well as the authority and image of our state,” said the Deputy Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alain Simonyan. Western partners obviously do not accept such an approach aimed at “preserving the problem”, and therefore, tension should be expected in the Amulsar issue, including the already difficult Yerevan-Washington relationship.

Finally, the third issue that has become a headache for Nikol Pashinyan is the need for substantive peace negotiations with Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It is noteworthy that recently the Russian Foreign Ministry speaker Maria Zakharova in a rather diplomatic manner, but at the same time she very clearly warned the parties to the conflict from populist slogans aimed at the internal audience and harming the negotiations. Zakharova spoke about the “parties to the conflict”, but answered the question about Pashinyan’s phrase “Nagorno-Karabakh is Armenia and the point!”, And therefore it’s not difficult to understand who the barely veiled warning of the Russian Foreign Ministry was actually addressed to. Apparently, a shout from Moscow to Yerevan had a certain impact: Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan recently said that "the existing format of negotiations is the best." Thus, Pashinyan’s stillborn theses on the need to include the NKR separatist entity as an equal party to the negotiations were buried by the Armenian Foreign Minister. Obviously, the Armenian side had to “play back”, otherwise the negotiations would have been completely broken: in the publications close to the authorities in Azerbaijan, the topic of the need to refuse to conduct further negotiations with Armenia was already discussed because of recent destructive actions and statements by its leadership. In this situation, Baku will feel quite at ease in negotiations with Yerevan in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group. Amulsar’s cargo and sensitive Iranian issues are pressing on the Pashinyan’s government from the western direction, and from the Russian one - the question of Robert Kocharian and the unfriendly steps taken by the Armenian authorities towards Moscow.

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