Pashinyan Taking Heat from Opposition Parties, ARF on Pandemic Response

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.

ARF Armenia Supreme Council chairperson Ishkhan Saghatelyan

“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.”


  1. To take advantage of the current situation for a small political gain is a lowball move by the ARF. The little to no relevance it has in Armenian politics is becoming less and less due to these opportunistic statements.

    • Although I agree that at this critical time politics should be set aside, one should note 2 things:

      1) The ARF criticism of the government is very mild and benign relative to the standard oppositional tone in Armenian politics, very much within the limits of what is considered ‘reasonable’,
      2) The government’s response is typical of its divisive and agressive (not to say hysterical) style, the vocabulary used is indicative of the overly emotional nature of the Premier, not only towards ARF but anyone who criticizes him (BHK, HHK, former presidents, etc).

      And if you want a balanced and intelligent point of view from one of the more authoritative, respected, experienced, and neutral journalists of Armenia who has no political affiliations, read A. Abrahamyan’s editorial from today.

      My humble recommendation: if you follow news from Armenia, read his short editorial every morning, it’s excellent to filter the garbage one constantly sees on social networks/fake news outlets … and ultimately for mental health.

    • wildcard,
      nobody is innocent in Armenia, but ARF has made several provocative statements in the past that did not really make an impact because it is practically irrelevant in Armenia today, however the practice itself is the same in all parties, not just the current government.

  2. Action speaks louder than words. ARF actions in the past speak volumes-ARF’s support of the corrupt Kocharian and Sarkissian governments- ARF not supporting freedom of press and speech-just ask disciplined and expelled ARF members. ARF received its just reward by not winning a seat in the National Assembly or Yerevan City Council. With less than 10% vote in both elections, ARF has become irrelevant. This is very unfortunate-it hurts me as a former AYF & ARF member.

    • There is a reason for it not being a relevant party in Armenia. What the party says and does in Armenia is usually far from the reality in the country, and the people realise that. To be making opportunistic statements during the pandemic shows how ARF, BHK, HHK and everyone else is desperately searching for the most minimal power, and will end up hurting the party even more in the long run. The ARF has very little future in Armenia right now and what it is doing now is only reducing its chances of surviving the next elections.

  3. Unfortunately the Tashnaks picked the wrong horse in the race and they still backing it up I share my home between United States and Armenia I was always told about how corrupt they are and I did not believe it I always told them there’s only one tashnak party and one bureau.Oh was i wrong! They tried to carry a coup two years ago with the Republicans and Dzarougians and got caught. What do you expect from a party that can muster only 63,000 votes in the national election , and these were real elections not like Sarkissian‘s elections.So please except reality and don’t try to use our Fedayies hard work and benefit from it .Shame on you during this pandemic days.

  4. This is a very unfortunate development. Mature nations unite at times of adversity and place national interests above narrow sectional interests. The Armenian Government introduced a lockdown for 2 months yet it was not effective because of large segments of the Armenian population disregarded the public health notices and warnings and continued to live normal lives by attending in mass numbers parties, weddings and funerals. The opposition forces pressured the Armenian Government to ease COVID-19 conditions and open up economic activity. With businesses and households coming under immense economic pressure and with the Armenian Government lacking the funds and resources to support businesses and households endure the lockdown, it was forced to remove the restrictions at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases were spiking.
    I would have expected traditional and mature Armenian political parties such as the Hunchak, Ramgavar and Tashnak parties to support the Armenian Government as it navigated the country during these challenging and critical times. Yet unfortunately the most influential Armenian diaspora party which no longer has representation in the Armenian parliament, is not able to play that constructive and supportive role.

    • Hagop, in principle I agree with you, in an ideal world, all opposition parties would declare that there will be a moratorium on criticism until the pandemic wave fades away, but this being the real world, most opposition parties worldwide (US, France, Canada, UK, etc) keep criticizing the government, albeit mildly and without active events (protests, meetings, etc). ARF is no different, its demand to call a parliament session to evaluate the government’s response – and thus display its mistakes, negatively impact its ratings, and gain some credit from the process – is a very mild and cliché/standard oppositional move, that’s what opposition does, normally much more intensely. Add to this the fact that the ARF is not represented in parliament, its political weight in Armenia is insignificant, it therefore represents no danger whatsoever to the government, and the question begs: why the hysterical response from the Premier about political tombstones and all the rest? Because he just can’t take criticism from anyone, not only the ARF … Mr. Pashinyan is Armenia’s Trump.

  5. Agree 100% with Arman. ARF and other oppositions must give all their supports and concrete suggestions to government for the Covid problem instead not opportune criticals! ( similar to a war emergency case).
    My modest small suggestion to Pashinyan goverment is : 1)to suspend by low (for the required necessary time) all celabrations for wedding, birthdays,bettesimo pubblic cerimonies locations.
    2) To convey in isolated location all reimpatriates insted of leaving in their home
    3) To controll more severly the imposed distances between tables in all opened bars and resturants

    • Heratch,

      Incidentally, the government is actually implementing all of your suggestions.

  6. What a shame indeed. “AMOT”. Granted the previous 3 presidents were corrupt. Armenia is not in a good economical state. The previous presidents collectively made it harder on the present prime minister to achieve more in a short time. Yes, he is not perfect, nor is anyone else, including you and including all parties. Regardless of which party you support, you must always try to work with one another, no matter how much we differ. We should be able to agree to disagree. The outside world is watching and they love to see us fight each other, called the weak link. That will make their mission a piece of cake. We should always remember, that United we stand and divided we fall. AMOT , to all. When everything is “Honky Dori”, it is all fine and dandy, but when the times get tough, the tough gets going. So I ask all the leaders of all parties: “Are we really that tough, that strong, and do we really put our parties interest before our country and our people?
    I ask each and everyone to put everything aside, think of all those who sacrificed their lives for you and me. Think of those who leave their families behind to defend and protect our country, you and me. Try to work together, yes together, because Armenia needs all our input, our support and our contribution for the sake of our little country that is surrounded by enemies. Anyone is capable of causing damage, but how many of us can help to build and make Armenia great again?

    Are you one of them?
    Can you unify our people instead of dividing them?!
    You see, we don’t have to worry about enemies from outside,…… we are our own enemy. What an easy target to topple our government and loose our homeland!!!

  7. It is time to put Pashinian in front of his responsibilities and ask the right questions. This how true democracy works, and Armenia is very far from it, the so called “revolution” didn’t change anything and the poor coverage of the issue by Armenian medias including AW isn’t helping.

    – Who was mocking the COVID at first, saying ” which dog is named COVID”. Nikol.
    – Who was at first taking lightly the COVID with “tu tu tu” saying that getting it would be a natural vaccination? Nikol.
    – Who failed to prevent the entry and the spread of the COVID in Armenia, despite being touched very late, being isolated and having only 5 entries on its soil? Nikol and his gvt.
    – Who, against all logic, imposed a quarantine for those entering from Iran but didn’t impose a forced quarantine to people coming from Europe in general and Italy in particular even though the latest was already a hot COVID spot? The gvt.
    – Who completely failed to apply isolation measures? After the lockdown, the street where still full of people without masks and police wasn’t reacting. The latest developments with compulsory masks are recent. Too late. We had one chance to kill the virus once and for all by applying very strict lockdown measures, it was a month and a half ago. It would have come at an economic cost, but it was still cheaper than the way it was dealt where not only we will have COVID and a much longer crisis.
    – Why very little efforts are made to improve the stagnating and ridiculously low testing capacity?
    – Who is trying to escape its responsibilities and put the blame of this failure on the people, putting citizens pictures not respecting distanciation on facebook ? Nikol.
    – Who is giving contradictory signals, by parading in Artsakh without masks, campaigning for the referendum, closing schools, but keeping the restaurants and bar opens despite the COVID is burning the country? The gvt.

    Armenia is one of the worst countries in the world regarding the COVID per capita, and government shall be held accountable, this is if you love Armenia more than Pashinyan of course.

    • Thank you Johnny for your constructive comment.
      Im living in Armenia btw. Everyday like many others, I witness the complete failure of the crisis handling by the government. I witness the incoherence in the decisions, I witnessed a lockdown that wasn’t respected by more than a half of the population without masks with the gvt immobilism on this matter, while they are trying to escape their responsibilities by blaming the citizens.
      So who’s out of touch? Those relying on AW to get a fallacious coverage of the situation or those experiencing it everyday?

  8. Amazing to see so called patriots attacking the leadership of Armenia for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Anyone who is interested already knows that this pandemic was a previously unknown virus. Huge countries with elaborate health industries were caught by surprise and there were as many opinions as there are experts about how to mitigate the damage. And we, passionate “supporters” of what tiny Armenia want to criticize how it was/is managed. WOW

    • If you were really interested on this matter, you would know that Armenia wasn’t caught by surprise, the first cases were detected weeks after the first cases in Georgia, Estonia, Albania just to quote few of the comparable countries that easily overcame the COVID. In term of crisis handling, this is an eternity.
      So yes, we are entitled to question the way the government dealt with the situation, but again this if you love Armenia more than Pashinyan, which is apparently not the case of everybody.

  9. Are Georgia and Azerbaijan “HUGE countries with elaborate health industries”? What a childish statement.

    Mesrob is 100% correct. What is happening in Armenia is a serious failure in management and oversight. But what can one expect from a yellow journalist and his soros funded kindergarden.

  10. This regime (the sheeple’s choice) has been a disaster from day one. Armenia is failing on all fronts as expected. Nikol and Levon and their CIA/Soros funded kindergarten need to be driven out of power at all costs, before the damage they have caused becomes irreversible. I disliked Sargsyan’s government. But, at this point, I understand he was the lesser evil. Best course going forward is to either beg for Karen Karapetyan’s return to politics in Armenia, or bring together Tsarukyan, Vanetsyan, Manukyan and the ARF and form a viable opposition. In any case, Armenia is at a very dangerous crossroads. Nikol and Levon need to be driven out of power as soon as possible…

    • It’s sad that you think that Tsarukyan (who has criminal charges and 0 legitimacy), Vanetsyan (who has no legitimacy), Manukyan (who has no legitimacy) and ARF (which couldn’t be any more irrelevant in Armenian politics) will be able to be a proper opposition. The only reason they are in politics is to hide their corruption. I agree needs a proper opposition, but at least name some smart people and organizations, not the jokes you listed.

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