Political crisis brewing in Armenia as military confront prime minister

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia demanded both Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his government should resign. The statement from the military came after Pashinyan dismissed First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Armenia Tiran Khachatrian. The latter was dismissed from his post after he laughed at Pashinyan's words about the ineffectiveness of Russian Iskander missile systems. Khachatrian laughed and called that statement not serious.

Representatives of the General Staff of Armenia set out a "strong protest" in connection with the resignation of Khachatrian and called its reasons "short-sighted and unfounded."

According to the military, the dismissal of the deputy chief of the General Staff was carried out "contrary to national and state interests of the Republic of Armenia and was based only on personal and ambitious feelings."

"From now on, the Prime Minister and the Government of Armenia are unable to make adequate decisions in this critical and fateful situation for the Armenian people," the statement reads, RBC reports.

The General Staff accused the sitting government of Armenia of attacks in order to discredit the country's Armed Forces, stressing that the military honorably fulfilled their duty and fought "shoulder to shoulder with their people against the enemy."

The Armed Forces demanded the Prime Minister and the government of the republic should resign and urged not to use force against the people.

"The army has always been with the people, just like the people have always been with the army," the statement says.

Pashinyan sacks Chief of the General Staff too

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the requirement from the General Staff an attempted military coup. He called on his supporters to gather at the government building on Republic Square in Yerevan and announced he would address the nation via live TV. He also announced the dismissal of the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia, RIA Novosti reports. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has not yet signed the relevant documents.

On Thursday morning, Armenian opposition activists blocked traffic on several streets in the center of Yerevan, demanding Pashinyan's resignation, Interfax reports. The work of the metro was partially disrupted: protesters would block the doors of the carriages, not allowing the drivers to move the trains.

Reportedly, protesters were chanting "Armenia without Nikol", but they unblocked the streets some time later. Gerasim Vardanyan, a member of Dashnaktsutyun Party, stated that protests would continue until Nikol Pashinyan resigns.

The opposition of Armenia has been holding protests since early February. Its supporters demand the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan after the trilateral ceasefire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh was adopted in November 2020. The agreement stipulates several areas of the region that were previously held by Armenian armed forces, came under the control of Azerbaijan.