YEREVAN—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is lashing out at opposition parties, including the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), in response to growing criticism of his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Indeed, the situation in the country is alarming. The government has failed in all directions,” said Ishkhan Saghatelyan of the ARF Supreme Body of Armenia in an interview with Yerkir. “It continues to misunderstand the crisis in all its depth and severity.”
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Armenia has surpassed 14,000; the death toll currently stands at 227. The ARF has been calling for a special session of the National Assembly to offer a full assessment of the crisis, hold Armenian government officials accountable and find joint solutions. Critics claim the government lifted lockdown measures too soon after improperly enforcing the stay at home orders in late March. Meanwhile, Armenia’s largest opposition force, the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), has issued calls for Pashinyan and his cabinet to resign; its leader Gagik Tsarukyan says the government has failed to mitigate the pandemic.
But Pashinyan has continuously defended his government’s containment measures and asserted that the ARF and other opposition parties are spreading a “political coronavirus.” The Prime Minister said these opposition parties are essentially digging their own graves and writing “their political tombstones.” “Those political forces will be completely driven out of Armenia’s political and public life,” said Pashinyan, who added that the public can throw opposition parties such as the ARF into the “trash heap of Armenia’s history.”
Saghatelyan quickly responded to the Prime Minister’s statements. “We will continue to fight against those who spread both the political and real coronavirus,” he wrote on Facebook. “In regards to ending up in a political trash heap, it’s the authorities that have every reason to be deeply worried about that.”