In a tumultuous turn of events, Yerevan’s municipal council has become the battleground for escalating political tensions, as the ruling Civil Contract party, led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, seeks to remove five council members, including former Mayor Hayk Marutian and four opposition councilors aligned with the Mayr Hayastan alliance.
The move, which has drawn sharp criticism from opposition groups, centers on allegations of absenteeism during council votes. Civil Contract, supported by its local ally, the Hanrapetutyun party, argues that these members have failed to fulfill their duties and should therefore be ousted from their positions.
However, critics within the opposition view this maneuver as a thinly veiled attempt to silence dissent and consolidate power. They contend that the absenteeism cited by Civil Contract is, in fact, a deliberate boycott undertaken as a strategic political maneuver.
Isabella Abgarian, a staunch supporter of Marutian, vehemently refuted claims of absenteeism, characterizing the opposition’s non-participation in council sessions as a legitimate form of political protest. She accused the ruling party of hypocrisy, pointing to instances where Civil Contract itself has abstained from council proceedings to obstruct decision-making.
Abgarian further criticized Prime Minister Pashinyan’s political team for what she described as an attempt to muzzle Marutian, who has intensified his criticism of the municipal administration in recent times. Andranik Tevanian, leader of the Mayr Hayastan alliance, echoed these sentiments, denouncing the move as an act of political intimidation designed to silence opposition voices.
Tevanian also accused the authorities of employing authoritarian tactics to discourage challenges to Mayor Tigran Avinian, a prominent figure within Civil Contract. Despite these coercive measures, he expressed confidence in the resilience of the opposition’s resolve to stand firm against perceived injustices.
Civil Contract, the target of mounting criticism, has notably refrained from issuing a direct response to the opposition’s allegations. This silence has fueled skepticism about the ruling party’s commitment to democratic principles and its willingness to engage in transparent and inclusive governance.
The situation underscores the deepening political divide within Yerevan’s municipal council, with tensions flaring over allegations of authoritarian behavior and attempts to stifle dissent. As the standoff continues, the fate of the embattled council members hangs in the balance, while broader questions about the state of democracy in Armenia come to the fore.