National Salvation Movement Exploring Ways to Advance Regime Change

National Salvation Leaders Vazgen Manukyan (left) and Ishkhan Saghatelyan in Vanadzor
Ishkhan Saghatelyan and Vazgen Manukyan of the National Salvation Movement at a rally in Gyumri on Jan. 15

Ishkhan Saghatelyan and Vazgen Manukyan of the National Salvation Movement at a rally in Gyumri on Jan. 15

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Opposition parties jointly trying to oust Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan are discussing ways of reinvigorating their campaign, one of their leaders said on Monday.

Ishkhan Saghatelyan, who coordinates the work of their Homeland Salvation Front alliance, acknowledged that they failed to attract large crowds during anti-government demonstrations staged in November and December.

“It is evident that the demand for Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation is a popular demand,” Saghatelyan said. “But so far we have not managed to convert that popular demand into a popular struggle.”

“We certainly need a new tactic and are now actively discussing making our activities more effective,” he added, answering questions from Facebook users at the RFE/RL studio in Yerevan.

National Salvation Movement staged a protest car rally in Yerevan on Jan. 24

National Salvation Movement staged a protest car rally in Yerevan on Jan. 24

Saghatelyan dismissed suggestions that many disgruntled Armenians did not take part in the recent protests because they feel that the opposition movement is led by former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian.

“The movement is not led by individuals and the former presidents in particular,” he said, adding that Sarkisian’s Republican Party is only one of the more than a dozen opposition groups making up the alliance.

Among those groups are Gagik Tsarukyan’s Prosperous Armenia Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Saghatelyan heads ARF’s governing body in Armenia.

The alliance blames Pashinyan for Armenia’s defeat in the recent war with Azerbaijan and wants him to resign and hand over power to an interim government.

The prime minister has rejected the opposition demands, dismissing the anti-government rallies as an “elite revolt” not backed by most Armenians. He has offered instead to hold fresh parliamentary elections.

Saghatelyan reiterated the Homeland Salvation Front’s rejection of the offer. He claimed that snap polls held by Pashinyan would be “the most disgraceful in Armenia’s history.”
“It is clear to [Pashinyan] that when a new government takes over in Armenia he will stand trial on tre

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