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Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan Announces Bid for Prime Minister, Requests Church to Suspend 30-Year Ministry

On May 26, Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, a vocal critic of the Armenian government, declared his intention to run against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. This announcement came during a massive rally in Republic Square, Yerevan, where tens of thousands of supporters gathered.

Galstanyan, aged 53, currently leads the Tavush Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He has been at the forefront of anti-government protests following a controversial border agreement with Azerbaijan. Speaking at the rally, Galstanyan shared that he had requested Catholicos Karekin II to suspend his spiritual duties, allowing him to focus on his political challenge against Pashinyan.

The Armenian Report's journalists, Ani Khachatryan and Ani Gevorgyan, traveled from Kirants village in Tavush to Yerevan to cover this significant event. Many residents from Kirants also left their homes to participate in the rally. Khachatryan is regularly updating our YouTube channel with footage from the event, urging people to subscribe and stay informed.

The rally was filled with cheers and applause as Galstanyan expressed his readiness to accept the nomination for prime minister in an anticipated impeachment move against Pashinyan. According to Armenia's constitution, a no-confidence vote against the prime minister can be initiated if at least one-third of lawmakers support it and propose a replacement candidate.

The opposition factions, Hayastan and Pativ Unem, linked to former Armenian presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sargsyan, have voiced their support for Galstanyan's bid. However, they require the backing of an independent lawmaker to proceed with the process. Despite some public dissatisfaction, Pashinyan remains popular and his party, Civil Contract, holds a majority in the parliament, making the success of the impeachment attempt uncertain.

A significant legal hurdle for Galstanyan is his dual citizenship of Armenia and Canada, which the Armenian Constitution prohibits for the prime minister position. Galstanyan pledged to abide by the constitution but did not clarify how he would address this issue. His supporters hinted that a constitutional amendment might be necessary.

Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan

Towards the end of the rally, Galstanyan announced his intention to meet Pashinyan at his residence to press for his resignation. The march started from Republic Square, with the Armenian police urging protesters to maintain public order.

Galstanyan also declared the beginning of civil disobedience actions, set to start on the morning of May 27, emphasizing the people's demand for government accountability.

While the rally was taking place, Pashinyan was visiting the flood-affected Lori and Tavush regions. 

The anti-government movement began in April in Tavush province, during with the border demarcation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This process, completed on May 15, altered the boundary and affected several Armenian border villages, raising concerns among locals about potential Azerbaijani attacks. The Armenian military had withdrawn from four villages, previously part of Soviet Azerbaijan but controlled by Armenia since the early 1990s war.

The Pashinyan government has promised to address infrastructure issues in the affected border villages within a few months, including constructing a new road and compensating those losing property and land due to the demarcation. The prime minister assured that a clearly defined and recognized border with Azerbaijan would deter further aggression. He also suggested that residents plant a tree to block the Azerbaijani troops who will be mere kilometers away from a school in the village of Kirants.

Both the United States and the European Union have praised the border demarcation agreement, viewing it as a positive step towards stability between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 


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