RFE/RL Armenian Report – 04/16/2019

                                        Tuesday, April 01, 2019
Pashinian Unrepentant About Flag Outburst
• Naira Nalbandian
Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian visits a customs terminal in Yerevan, 
April 9, 2019.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rejected on Monday human rights activists’ and 
opposition leaders’ criticism of his angry behavior and sacking orders issued 
during a visit to a customs facility in Yerevan.
Pashinian berated a customs officer, Hayk Martirosian, for not standing at 
attention when he began inspecting the facility on April 9. He then entered an 
office and noticed an apparently dirty Armenian flag there before ordering 
everyone working in the room to be fired.
Human rights activists condemned Pashinian’s behavior, saying that he is not 
legally allowed to order such sackings. They also decried Martirosian’s 
humiliation in front of TV cameras.
Martirosian and the chief of the customs terminal resigned from their jobs 
following the incident. The State Revenue Committee (SRC), which comprises the 
Armenian customs service, denied forcing them to quit. The SRC chief, Davit 
Ananian, also claimed that Pashinian “urged,” rather than ordered, their 
dismissal.
Opposition politicians added their voice to the criticism. One of them compared 
Pashinian’s behavior to Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s periodical 
public outbursts, while another published an open letter earlier on Monday 
accusing the prime minister of violating labor rights.
Pashinian scoffed at the letter. “If things continue like this, the next letter 
will be about us violating Serzh Sarkisian’s labor rights,” he said, referring 
to Armenia’s former leader overthrown in last year’s “velvet revolution.”
Pashinian said that Martirosian’s failure to stand at attention in his presence 
highlighted customs officers’ lack of respect for many citizens dealing with 
the customs service. “Why do you think we are getting hundreds of letters 
complaining about customs bodies?” he told reporters.
“He could have avoid writing the [resignation] letter,” Pashinian said of 
Martirosian. “What should I do? My position is that such people must not be [in 
the customs service.]”
“I think that no action aimed at enhancing [state bodies’ proper] attitude 
towards the national flag has been as effective as that incident,” he added.
Pashinian Unrepentant About Flag Outburst
• Naira Nalbandian
Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian visits a customs terminal in Yerevan, 
April 9, 2019.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rejected on Monday human rights activists’ and 
opposition leaders’ criticism of his angry behavior and sacking orders issued 
during a visit to a customs facility in Yerevan.
Pashinian berated a customs officer, Hayk Martirosian, for not standing at 
attention when he began inspecting the facility on April 9. He then entered an 
office and noticed an apparently dirty Armenian flag there before ordering 
everyone working in the room to be fired.
Human rights activists condemned Pashinian’s behavior, saying that he is not 
legally allowed to order such sackings. They also decried Martirosian’s 
humiliation in front of TV cameras.
Martirosian and the chief of the customs terminal resigned from their jobs 
following the incident. The State Revenue Committee (SRC), which comprises the 
Armenian customs service, denied forcing them to quit. The SRC chief, Davit 
Ananian, also claimed that Pashinian “urged,” rather than ordered, their 
dismissal.
Opposition politicians added their voice to the criticism. One of them compared 
Pashinian’s behavior to Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s periodical 
public outbursts, while another published an open letter earlier on Monday 
accusing the prime minister of violating labor rights.
Pashinian scoffed at the letter. “If things continue like this, the next letter 
will be about us violating Serzh Sarkisian’s labor rights,” he said, referring 
to Armenia’s former leader overthrown in last year’s “velvet revolution.”
Pashinian said that Martirosian’s failure to stand at attention in his presence 
highlighted customs officers’ lack of respect for many citizens dealing with 
the customs service. “Why do you think we are getting hundreds of letters 
complaining about customs bodies?” he told reporters.
“He could have avoid writing the [resignation] letter,” Pashinian said of 
Martirosian. “What should I do? My position is that such people must not be [in 
the customs service.]”
“I think that no action aimed at enhancing [state bodies’ proper] attitude 
towards the national flag has been as effective as that incident,” he added.
Pashinian Unrepentant About Flag Outburst
• Naira Nalbandian
Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian visits a customs terminal in Yerevan, 
April 9, 2019.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rejected on Monday human rights activists’ and 
opposition leaders’ criticism of his angry behavior and sacking orders issued 
during a visit to a customs facility in Yerevan.
Pashinian berated a customs officer, Hayk Martirosian, for not standing at 
attention when he began inspecting the facility on April 9. He then entered an 
office and noticed an apparently dirty Armenian flag there before ordering 
everyone working in the room to be fired.
Human rights activists condemned Pashinian’s behavior, saying that he is not 
legally allowed to order such sackings. They also decried Martirosian’s 
humiliation in front of TV cameras.
Martirosian and the chief of the customs terminal resigned from their jobs 
following the incident. The State Revenue Committee (SRC), which comprises the 
Armenian customs service, denied forcing them to quit. The SRC chief, Davit 
Ananian, also claimed that Pashinian “urged,” rather than ordered, their 
dismissal.
Opposition politicians added their voice to the criticism. One of them compared 
Pashinian’s behavior to Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko’s periodical 
public outbursts, while another published an open letter earlier on Monday 
accusing the prime minister of violating labor rights.
Pashinian scoffed at the letter. “If things continue like this, the next letter 
will be about us violating Serzh Sarkisian’s labor rights,” he said, referring 
to Armenia’s former leader overthrown in last year’s “velvet revolution.”
Pashinian said that Martirosian’s failure to stand at attention in his presence 
highlighted customs officers’ lack of respect for many citizens dealing with 
the customs service. “Why do you think we are getting hundreds of letters 
complaining about customs bodies?” he told reporters.
“He could have avoid writing the [resignation] letter,” Pashinian said of 
Martirosian. “What should I do? My position is that such people must not be [in 
the customs service.]”
“I think that no action aimed at enhancing [state bodies’ proper] attitude 
towards the national flag has been as effective as that incident,” he added.
Press Review
“Zhoghovurd” reports that an Armenian parliament committee discussed on Monday 
a government bill that would reduce the number of ministries in the country 
from 17 to 12. The paper notes that Armenia’s government was already downsized 
under former Prime Minister Karen Karapetian and that the resulting staff cuts 
not only did not spark protests but were also backed by many Armenians at the 
time. It complains that the new government’s plans to continue that process are 
meeting with hostile reaction from some media outlets and opposition forces.
“Aravot” believes that the staff cuts must be coupled with more efficient work 
of government agencies and greater competence of civil servants. “Audacious and 
non-populist steps are needed here,” editorializes the paper. It says that 
higher wages alone will not attract competent professions to the public sector. 
It says the latter would hate work for disrespectful, whimsical and 
unpredictable ministers or other senior government officials.
Lragir.am sees a growing “wave of sabotage” against Pashinian’s government. 
“Workers of enterprise whose profits are at risk are speaking out against 
layoffs,” writes the online publication. “In the last ten days this has been 
the case at three large enterprises: Spayka, the Ararat Tsement plant and 
Gazprom Armenia. In all three cases the factors of sabotage and blackmail are 
evident. The state is trying to play a regulatory role but the companies 
accustomed to old patterns of kickbacks and deals are failing to reach legal 
common ground with the government and are resorting to blackmail.”
(Lilit Harutiunian)
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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