Armenian protest leader takes power under Russia's shadow

Charlene Craig
May 9, 2018

In Tuesday's vote, some Republicans switched sides, and Pashinyan won the backing of 59 lawmakers, with 42 voting against him. Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev said.

In the lead-up to his election on Tuesday, Pashinyan said that he was committed to staying in an economic bloc and regional collective security organization led by Russian Federation, which is wary of an uncontrolled change of power that would pull the country out of Russia's orbit.

At first, his quest to overthrow the government whose leaders have ruled Armenia since the 1990s felt quixotic.

"The victory is not that I was elected prime minister", Pashinyan told the crowd.

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Armenia is also involved in a long-lasting conflict with Azerbaijan over the mountainous territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave with an ethnic Armenian majority that lies inside Azerbaijan's borders.

Protesters accused Sargsyan of attempting a power grab under a new parliamentary system of government passed in a 2015 referendum that the opposition says was tainted by irregularities.

Former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan was forced to resign in April in response to a series of protests triggered by his appointment as prime minister, after he had already served as president for a decade. "My best wishes to you and good luck", Sarkissian said, congratulating Pashinyan at the meeting, the President's Office said.

Nikol Pashinian, who was named the new prime minister by parliament on Tuesday, has repeatedly said that he would not seek to change Armenia's cooperation with Russian Federation.

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After it blocked his election last week, the party said on Tuesday it had chose to get behind him for the sake of unity and the good of the nation.

The Armenian National Assembly has voted on the single candidature for the prime minister's post, the leader of the Velvet Revolution, chair of the Civil Contract Party, MP Nikol Pashinyan.

He has said he has no intention to cling to power but he will first have to persuade the same parliament to approve his cabinet. "There will be no people with privileged rights in Armenia, everyone will be equal before the law", he stressed.

Pashinyan lead the Parliamentary Minority for a year before becoming PM of Armenia.

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As EADaily reported earlier, Serzh Sargsyan resigned on April 23 amidst protest actions against his election.

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