Rather than fizzling out, the movement to replace Pashinyan is gaining strength

Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan speaking at a “Tavush for the Homeland” protest in central Yerevan (Photo: Anthony Pizzoferrato, May 26, 2024)

Ever since Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan with his thousands of followers started marching towards Yerevan, many wondered what would happen on May 9 once they reached Republic Square where Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s offices are located.

After arriving in Yerevan, Srpazan (Archbishop) Bagrat gave Pashinyan one hour to resign. When the hour was over and Pashinyan did not resign, Srpazan announced that there would be acts of civil disobedience throughout the country beginning the next day. He urged his followers to act peacefully and not to commit any acts of violence.

Pashinyan was hoping that the number of protesters would dwindle over time and the movement would fizzle out. The regime did everything in its power to vilify and defame Srpazan and the protesters. Government propagandists announced that there were merely around 20,000 protesters in the Republic Square on May 9, whereas most observers estimated the crowd to be several times larger. After misleading the Armenian public for six years with thousands of lies, Pashinyan continued his deceptive practices by claiming without any evidence that the protesters are Kremlin’s agents who were paid money to participate in these protests. Government leaders ridiculed not only Srpazan, but also the Armenian church, an institution that has shepherded the nation ever since 301 AD, particularly during the absence of an Armenian state.

To the disappointment of the prime minister’s diminishing number of supporters, as his rating has gone down from 80-percent six years ago to eight-percent now, Srpazan held a second rally in Republic Square with tens of thousands of followers in attendance. Despite the brutal actions of Pashinyan’s police, who viciously attacked the peaceful protesters, the movement grew stronger rather than fizzling out. During the past week, Srpazan held separate meetings with groups of lawyers, doctors, retired military officers, artists and dozens of opposition leaders.

Srpazan proved the falsehood of Pashinyan followers’ repeated mantra that no one else can replace the prime minister. Srpazan succeeded in uniting the various opposition groups for the first time under his leadership. Large segments of the public, livid at Pashinyan’s defeatist concessions to Azerbaijan, responded enthusiastically to Srpazan’s peaceful but urgent message for change.

Finally, Srpazan’s long-awaited big rally took place on May 26, during which several important announcements were made. The crowd was told that Srpazan would temporarily replace Pashinyan after which a coalition government would be formed, followed by parliamentary elections that would choose a new prime minister. Even though the Constitution requires that the prime minister be exclusively a citizen of Armenia for the preceding four years, Srpazan’s followers believe that his dual citizenship of Armenia and Canada would not prevent him from temporarily acting as prime minister. Srpazan made the commitment that he would be guided exclusively by legal requirements. Ironically, Pashinyan’s regime, which has violated just about every existing law, is demanding that the protesters comply with the laws of the country.

During the May 26 rally, Srpazan also announced that after consulting with other high-ranking clergymen and Catholicos Karekin II, it was decided that he would freeze his 30-year-long spiritual service in order not to combine political activities with his religious position.

Srpazan is attempting to topple Pashinyan the same way the latter toppled Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Pashinyan and his followers violated dozens of laws to come to power, blocking the streets, the parliament building and the courthouse and smashing the locked doors of the Armenian radio station. However, Pashinyan thinks that he is the only one who can get away with breaking the law. Amazingly, he even boastfully proclaimed: “Is there a judge in Armenia who cannot do what the prime minister says?” If anyone else does what he did, his barbaric police are ordered, as he himself announced during the parliamentary campaign in 2021 while holding a hammer in his hand, to smash the heads of his Armenian opponents, even though he falsely claims to be a democrat. Ironically, Pashinyan never uses such vile language against the real enemies of Armenia — Azerbaijan and Turkey — whose leaders make the most offensive comments about Armenia.

At the end of the mass rally in the Republic Square on May 26, Srpazan marched with his followers to the prime minister’s mansion and demanded that he meet with them and resign. However, it turned out that Pashinyan was not at home but was visiting the flooded areas of northern Armenia.

Srpazan then led the large crowd back to the Republic Square, where the rally had started several hours earlier. He urged his followers to engage in acts of civil disobedience throughout the country to pressure Pashinyan to resign.

This is Armenia’s last chance to save the country from Pashinyan, a defeated and incompetent leader, who is willing to follow Aliyev and Azerbaijan’s orders and make illegal and endless one-sided concessions, until the total loss of Armenia — after the loss of Artsakh!

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

1 Comment

  1. A traitor like Pashinyan may conveniently choose to ignore, that by far the oldest Armenian institution in the world, the Armenian Apostolic Church, survived, when Armenian states perished under the onslaught of invaders, and kept the Armenian language, culture, repository and nationhood alive since the 4th century and also played such an important part in the Armenian national movement and in the realization of Armenian statehood after being subjugated, oppressed, enslaved and massacred for many centuries.

    Pashinyan’s hostility and his relentless attacks against the Armenian Apostolic Church is disgusting, and unprecedented since Bolshevik times. Not even in the post-Stalinist Soviet era, did the Armenian Apostolic Church and its leadership receive such threats and verbal attacks. If Pashinyan is a member, then the Armenian Apostolic Church must immediately excommunicate traitors like him and ban him from entering every church.

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