After the 20 June elections in Armenia, in which acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s party won a landslide with 54% of the vote, tensions with the opposition have continued to simmer — in one case, a pro-opposition village head was reportedly beaten.
On 22 June, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan reported that Arsen Titanyan, the mayor of Odzun, a large village in Armenia’s Lori Province, was beaten by a group of people demanding his resignation.
Tatoyan stated that he would take the case to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Later, local media talked to Titanyan, a supporter of opposition politician Robert Kocharyan and his Armenia Alliance bloc, who said that roughly 10 people were part of the group that attacked him, including Aram Khachatryan, the Governor of Lori and a former MP from Nikol Pashinyan’s My Step bloc. Titanyan said that he was not going to resign and planned to submit a complaint to the Police.
On Tuesday, the advisor to Armenia’s Prosecutor General, Gor Abrahamyan, announced that the Prosecutor’s Office had opened an investigation into the incident.
The governor of Lori denied that he had beaten Titanyan, saying that ‘such a thing did not happen’, and that since Titanyan had already appealed to law enforcement, he would, ‘let the police deal with it’.
Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tigran Avinyan, commented on the news saying that he was not aware of the case, but that violence in Armenia was impermissible, and that it had been since the 2018 revolution.
Earlier that day a representative from the opposition Armenia Alliance bloc, led by the country’s second president, Robert Kocharyan, stated that the authorities had started repressing the opposition.
‘Just yesterday, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was talking about extending a hand of solidarity, and today, we received several alarms from all the communities in which the heads of communities supported the “Armenia” bloc during the snap parliamentary elections. In all those communities, the heads were urged to resign voluntarily’, he said.
After the landslide victory of Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party in the elections, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Arsen Torosyan, wrote on Facebook that the results of the election ‘should be a signal for some community leaders, which were included in the proportional lists of various political forces, to continue or stop their next tenure’.
In his victory rally on 21 June, Pashinyan stated that he was ready to start consultations and consolidation with those opposition parties that were willing to. Over the next two days, he met with the leaders of several minor parties that didn’t pass the minimum electoral threshold, including the head of Bright Armenia, Edmon Marukyan.
He did not meet with the parliamentary opposition, which includes the Armenia Alliance and the I Have Honour bloc, led by former National Security Service head Artur Vanetsyan.
‘We’re going to take power’
During a press conference on 22 June, Kocharyan told reporters that if the Armenia Alliance chooses to accept their seats in parliament — they have also floated the idea of boycotting parliament — their priority would remain taking power in the country.
‘You think that we’re going to Parliament for the mandates? No. We’re going to take power, and stand responsible for the country’, Kocharyan said.
The Armenia Alliance received 21% of votes in the election, and, if they take up their seats, will be the second-largest faction in parliament.
The bloc has also challenged the election results, claiming widespread electoral violations. Representatives have said that the bloc is preparing evidence to submit to the Constitutional Court.
Both local and international observers have stated that while there were some electoral violations, many of which were carried out by the Armenia Alliance, overall, the election was free and fair.
Artur Vanetsyan of the I Have Honour bloc, the third-largest faction in the upcoming parliament, said that they had not seen any willingness from Pashinyan to cooperate with the opposition so far. However, if Pashinyan does offer cooperation and ‘brings calmness’ to Armenia, Vanetsyan said he ‘would be happy’.
‘Our attitude towards Pashinyan is going to be mirror-like’, Vanetsyan added.