Court Reaffirms Ruling to Reinstate Army Chief

By Asbarez | Tuesday, 06 April 2021

Armenia's Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan was fired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Armenia’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan was fired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

YEREVAN (—A court in Yerevan on Monday reaffirmed its provisional decision to reinstate Colonel-General Onik Gasparyan, the former chief of the Armenian army’s General Staff fired last month after demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation.

Gasparyan and four dozen other high-ranking army officers voiced the demand in a February 25 statement that accused the Armenian government of misrule and incompetence. The statement was hailed by opposition groups but rejected as a coup attempt by Pashinyan.

Pashinyan moved to fire Gasparyan immediately after the unprecedented act of defiance by the military’s top brass. President Armen Sarkissian twice refused to sign a relevant decree drafted by the prime minister. But Sarkissian declined to challenge its legality in the Constitutional Court, paving the way for Gasparyan’s automatic dismissal.

Gasparyan responded by asking another court to declare his sacking null and void. In an injunction publicized on March 18, the Administrative Court said that the general must retain his post pending a ruling on his lawsuit.

Pashinyan’s office countered, however, that Gasparyan will not be reinstated as army chief because he was sacked “by virtue of law.” A lawyer representing it insisted on Friday that the legality of such dismissals cannot be challenged in court.

The lawyer, Tatevik Hayrapetyan, petitioned the Administrative Court to rescind its injunction. The court rejected the demand.

Gasparyan has said through his lawyers that the government’s refusal to let him continue performing his duties despite the court injunction is illegal. The general asked prosecutors last month to launch a criminal investigation.

Pashinyan installed a new chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Artak Davtyan, on March 22.

Davtyan told reporters on Friday that he believes that standoff between the government and the army’s top brass has been resolved. He said that he is “working very well” with the 40 other officers who demanded Pashinyan’s resignation.