YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday lambasted senior Nagorno-Karabakh officials who he said are “meddling” in Armenia’s ongoing parliamentary race with their public statements.
One of his close associates, Sasun Mikaelyan, said on Monday that the success of this spring’s protest movement that brought Pashinyan to power was more important than the Armenian victory in the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan.
The remark was condemned by leaders of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia as well as some Karabakh Armenian government and military officials.
Pashinyan was quick to respond to the outcry. He accused the Republican Party of Armenia of deliberately misinterpreting Mikaelyan’s statement which he portrayed as a slip of the tongue.
The premier also hit out at the Karabakh leadership on Thursday during a campaign trip to the Gegharkunik province.
“Frankly, I don’t quite understand recent days’ activity of representatives of the Artsakk Republic,” he said at a rally held there. “Why have they become active? Why are they making various comments? And why are they trying to meddle in and show their presence in Armenia’s parliamentary election campaign?”
“I am calling on [Artsakh President] Bako Sahakian to rein in representatives of his government and make sure they do their job,” Pashinyan went on.“The press secretary of the Karabakh president comments on my statements every other day. What is this?”
“Sober up and mind your business,” he said in an unprecedented warning to the authorities in Stepanakert. “I will certainly discuss this with you, but only after the elections.”
Sahakian did not immediately react to the criticism. Incidentally, the Karabakh leader met on Thursday with the visiting chief of the Armenian police, Valeri Osipyan. No details of the meeting were made public.
Karabakh officials also reacted when Pashinyan declared on the campaign trail that he is the first leader of Armenia whose son performs compulsory military service in Karabakh. He also said that some sons of unspecified “Karabakh leaders” did not serve in the military at all.
It was not clear whether he referred to only Armenia’s Karabakh-born former President Robert Kocharian or Karabakh’s leaders as well.
Sahakian’s press secretary, Davit Babayan, stated afterwards that the sons of both the current Karabakh president and his predecessor Arkadi Ghukasyan had served in the local military.
Pashinyan mentioned only Kocharian’s two sons when he campaigned in Gegharkunik. He said that although they both were formally drafted to Armenia’s armed forces during Kocharian’s rule none of them “spent a single night at any military base.”