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Nikol Pashinyan: Armenia is not a democratic country (video)

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“Two days ago, in his speech at the fourth plenary session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly Serzh Sargsyan spoke in a manner which is characteristic of leaders of democratic countries. Is there any objective evidence enabling you to consider the Republic of Armenia as a democratic country?” Armenian lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan said at the 15th session of the Armenia-EU Parliamentary Cooperation Committee. “Never has the opposition won any election in Armenia since the country proclaimed independence [in 1991],” he said. “Only a few months speaking at the sitting of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) Serzh Sargsyan ordered a government crackdown against his former coalition partner Gagik Tsarukyan, the former leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), after the latter said he was going to run in the next presidential election.” Mr Pashinyan also cited Serzh Sargsyan’s words that Tsarukyan should be stripped of his mandate because of his ‘chronic absenteeism.’ “Terrified of the crackdown and the ensuing internal political strife, the embattled tycoon [Gagik Tsarukyan] gave up the idea of running in the presidential elections and after obeying Sargsyan’s decision kept his parliamentary mandate. Now the law enforcement authorities seem to have forgotten about the accusations levied against him. Is this a democratic country?” said Pashinyan. Then he citied Serzh Sargsyan’s statement peaceful assemblies and rallies are not banned in Armenia and reminded of the existence of political prisoners in Armenia, including  jailed activists Volodya Avetisyan and Shant Harutyunyan. “Many in Armenia consider these two men to be political prisoners,” Pashinyan stressed. Then he focused on the post-election clashes of March 1, 2008 and said ‘this is another vivid violation of the right to freedom of assembly.’ “Contrary to Serzh Sargsyan’s statements, Armenia is not a democratic country as long as we have political prisoners and an opposition candidate is unable to win elections," he said in conclusion.