Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Nikol Pashinyan, Armenian journalist and politician, was born in 1975. He was expelled from the university in his final year. He worked as a journalist during his studies, and served as Prime Minister of Armenia between May 2018 and April 25, 2021. , when he resigned, returned to the same post after winning the early elections held the same year.

Pashinyan was known for his hostility towards the Republican Party, and during his reign the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region was raging.

birth and upbringing

Nikol Pashinyan was born on June 1, 1975 in the city of Igvan, located in northeastern Armenia, which was part of the Soviet Union, and is now the capital of Tavush Governorate.

Pashinyan was the youngest of three children of his father, teacher Vova, and his mother Svetlana, who died when he was 12.

After his mother's death, his father married a woman named Yerzanek, and she played an important role in his later life and his upbringing.

During its founding, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was implementing a long-term decentralization program, which later led to Armenia and other republics becoming independent from the Soviet Union.

Nikol Pashinyan addresses his supporters gathered in Republic Square in downtown Yerevan on February 25, 2023 (French)

scientific formation

Reforms imposed by Gorbachev led to greater freedom of the press, which flourished with the fall of the Soviet Union. Pashinyan attended Yerevan State University in 1993 and studied journalism, but he was expelled from the university in 1995 after accusing the administration of corruption.

Concurrent with his expulsion from the university, Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh had increased their control over the region and claimed its “independence”.

Journalism Experience

Pashinyan began his journalistic work early, as he worked as a correspondent for several newspapers during his studies, and two years after being expelled from the university, in 1997, he founded an opposition newspaper , which accused the President of Nagorno-Karabakh. , Robert Kocharian, and several of his articles published in 1999 led to a corruption scandal that set the newspaper's headquarters on fire.

After refusing to withdraw his accusation or pay the fine, a lawsuit was filed against Pashinyan on charges of defaming an Armenian political figure and insulting an official government employee. Then he was sentenced to one year in jail.

The day of the verdict coincided with the presence in Armenia of EU President Russell Johnston, who expressed his opinion on the Pashinyan case during his talks with the government.

Since he was the first journalist to face criminal charges in independent Armenia, Armenian authorities faced international pressure to reconsider his case and the appeals court ordered a stay of execution of the sentence, on the condition that He was under constant police surveillance.

European Political Community (EPC) holds inaugural meeting
In mid-January 2019, Pashinyan's new government was sworn in (Getty)

Despite this, the government closed down his newspaper, fined him $25,000, and succeeded it as Heikan Zamanak. In late 2004, Pashinyan's car was bombed outside the newspaper's headquarters.

The police report concluded that the explosion was caused by technical problems, and it occurred a day after the newspaper issued criticism against the Armenian police chief. Based on the Civil Defense statement that the explosion was caused by external interference, the police did not investigate the explosion until 10 days after it occurred.

Nikol Pashinyan worked as editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Haykaan Zamanak” until 2008 and held the post of nominal editor-in-chief until 2012.

political activity

In 2008, Nikol Pashinyan supported Ter-Petrosyan's campaign to return to power, but he did not win the election, whose integrity Nikol criticized.

He was one of those who organized rallies calling for re-election and those rallies faced a widespread and violent campaign of repression in March 2008. Pashinyan remained in hiding until July 2009, then surrendered himself to the judiciary and pleaded guilty. In a statement he published as a political prisoner.

He was released on May 27, 2011, after the Armenian government issued a general amnesty, having spent almost two years in prison.

In 2012, Pashinyan joined parliament after defecting to Ter-Petrosyan's party. In 2015, he co-founded the Civil Contracts Party, and competed within the “Yelk” electoral coalition in the 2017 elections. That coalition was separate from the Ter-Petrosyan party. The coalition won only 9 seats at that time, while the Ter-Petrosyan party coalition won 31 seats.

Russian President Putin meets Armenia's Prime Minister Pashinyan in Moscow
Armenian Prime Minister (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters)

Pashinyan as Prime Minister

In May 2017, Nikol Pashinyan led the Yelk parliamentary party coalition in the National Assembly.

On March 31, 2018, they started a movement in the “Gyumri Verdentes” square and this led to a popular revolution called the “Velvet Revolution” which lasted in April and May of the same year.

On May 8, 2018, Pashinyan was elected Prime Minister of Armenia in the National Assembly (Parliament), and this inauguration was at the request of the popular movement. He resigned on 16 October of the same year in order to call snap elections and performed the duties of acting Prime Minister in line with his election pledge.

This led to the dissolution of the National Assembly and preparations for early elections on December 9, 2018, in which the Pashinyan-led coalition won a landslide victory, receiving over 70% of the vote.

In mid-January 2019, Pashinyan's new government was sworn in and released an economic reform plan that had optimistic goals but was criticized for its vague details.

Russia – which is Armenia's most important guarantor of security and its largest trading partner – was hostile towards Pashinyan's government, prompting it to seek business deals elsewhere, particularly in Iran.

negotiations with azerbaijan

The new government hoped to start negotiations with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, so meetings between the two sides took place in late March 2019, attended by Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

But tensions escalated in mid-2020 due to the collapse of diplomacy between the two countries and violent clashes broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh in July of the same year, and tensions continued until late September 2020.

The conflict resulted in the destruction of Armenian forces and the matter ended on November 9, 2020, when Pashinyan agreed to withdraw Armenian forces and give up Armenian control over a large part of the region.

early elections

In the wake of that conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, demonstrations broke out in Yerevan as a result of Armenian shock from the war, economic pressure caused by the influx of refugees, and economic problems associated with (COVID-19). pandemic.

Protesters stormed the Parliament House on November 10, 2020, demanding the resignation of the government. Armen Sargsyan was the former Prime Minister; Among those advocating for Pashinyan to step down, the General Staff of the Armed Forces also called on him to resign several months later.

In March 2021, as pressure increased, Pashinyan agreed to call early elections in June 2021, and officially resigned in April while remaining in the caretaker position.

The biggest electoral challenge he faced came from the candidacy of Robert Kocharyan, who attracted the most voters concerned about national security, but Kocharyan remained associated with corruption and the old guard that Pashinyan had removed.

Pashinyan proved to be the most popular, and opinion polls showed widespread pessimism about each candidate's ability to deal with Armenia's current affairs, and Pashinyan and his party won those elections.

Despite his victory, he lost his popularity among a section of his people after he signed a peace deal brokered by Moscow to end the war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.

While the opposition accused him of failing to implement promised reforms and hand over land to Azerbaijan within the framework of a peace agreement concluded in 2020.

Position on Karabakh 2023

On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan announced a military operation in Karabakh, which it said was an operation to counter terrorism and enforce order. The operation resulted in more than 200 deaths, more than 400 injuries, and thousands of people evacuated.

As a result of the military operation, demonstrations took place in the Armenian capital on September 19, 2023, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Protesters also demonstrated in front of the Russian Embassy after Azerbaijan launched a military campaign targeting Armenians. Armed formations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Republic Square in front of Pashinyan's headquarters to protest his management of the Karabakh crisis and chanted slogans such as “Nikol resign, Nikol is a traitor”.

The prime minister condemned “calls for a coup against the government” and said in a televised speech, “We must not allow certain parties and certain forces to attack the Armenian state.”

The next day of the operation, i.e. Wednesday, September 20, 2023, Azerbaijan declared its control over the region, and it was announced that discussions would take place between Armenia and Azerbaijan under the auspices of Moscow's peacekeeping force.

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