Saturday, 07 December

"Not Up for Discussion": Outspoken MP Nikol Pashinyan Argues in Favor of March 1 Commission

Armenian National Congress MP Nikol Pashinyan in parliament today revisited the events and aftereffects of March 1, 2008, and spoke about Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's brother amassing huge sums of money from newly installed speed cameras in the capital, Armenian citizens' power to revolt, and several other topics of concern.

During a discussion to establish a commission to investigate the events of March 1, 2008, Pashinyan said in the room right now are those who have a direct connection with the events of that tragic day and that is the reason that he refused to participate in the moment of silence yesterday to honor the victims. Recall, on that day in 2008, 10 people died when national police and military forces were called in to disperse mass protests by supporters of unsuccessful presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian against alleged electoral fraud.

The opposition MP said former president Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan bear the primary responsibility for the "slaughter" of March 1, as the killings occurred upon their orders. Otherwise, he said, how can the death of 10 citizens of Armenia, in the context of such public and political resonance, not be declared a day of mourning? Pashinyan is convinced that only he who doesn't feel pain for what happened (and only a murderer does not feel pain) is guilty of the act. 

Pashinyan claimed that before 2008, Kocharian and Sargsyan rigged all the elections, and after 2008, Sargsyan has remained loyal to him. According to him, before March 1, 2008, Kocharian through the use of special police forces evicted residents of downtown Yerevan from their homes so that he and his family could accrue billions of dollars in capital. After 2008, Serzh Sargsyan's brother Alexander Sargsyan "plundered around 9 billion dram annually from citizens' pockets through speed [limit enforcement] cameras for the benefit of his children, so that they can purchase $10,000 floral bouquets on Northern Avenue for their lovers."

After 2008, Pashinyan said, Serzh Sargsyan thought that Armenia's citizens had lost the power to revolt, and some thought that there are no longer people who will raise the gauntlet of impudence and impunity reigning in the country. "You are wrong in your calculations," he said.

The matter of establishing a commission to investigate the events of March 1, 2008, Pashinyan said, is an issue "that cannot be put up for discussion or bargaining, and the establishment of the commission is an opportunity for us in comfortable working conditions to return to this agenda."

Other issues the opposition MP touched upon included punishing members of the "student gangs" of the Armenian State University of Economics and the Armenian National Agrarian University who recently prohibited journalists from covering the Yerevan mayor's public defense of his doctoral thesis; obliging Justice Minister Hrayr Tovmasyan to apologize to members of parliament for inappropriate remarks; and the speed limit enforcement cameras must be removed as there is a danger of corruption in this sector. 


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