“I’m tired! Go away!” – that is the main slogan of the protests in Yerevan, addressed to the former President and current Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan*. And if a few years ago, those who were demonstrating against the increase of tariffs on electricity, vigorously urged the journalists: “It is not independence”, today the mood of others. Protest leaders led by member of Parliament Nikol Pashinyan talking about the “velvet revolution”.
“Karabakh clan” in Armenia positions will not pass
Serzh Sargsyan largely himself brought the matter before the conflict. In 2015, he literally pushed through a referendum a new Constitution, changing the presidential form of government to parliamentary. The document has secured a dominant position in the policy of “Karabakh clan”, a group of security forces, war veterans of the 1990-ies with Azerbaijan over Nagorno – Karabakh, and they controlled the Republican party. “Republicans” – a sort of Armenian equivalent of “United Russia”, only weaker. After all, in the country’s Parliament sits, though few in number, but the real opposition, not like the Communist party or Ksenia Sobchak.
Many citizens voted for a new Constitution in 2015, believing the promises Sargsyan not to run for the post of Prime Minister. On the new Basic law, it is the Prime Minister, not a President with a purely Executive powers, plays the role of a real President. However, the promise Sargsyan didn’t keep. People embraced first the nomination and then approval of the former President head of the Cabinet of Ministers as a usurpation of power and a personal insult.
Serzh Sargsyan Viktor Yanukovych
I can assume that the decision on the dispersal of mass protests, the withdrawal of parliamentary immunity and the trial of opposition deputies Sargsyan do not need encouragement, calls from Moscow. He is not Viktor Yanukovych. Former defence Minister and veteran of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh is no stranger to conflict.
In 1998, he together with other representatives of the “Karabakh clan” in fact a coup, forced to resign, the first President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan. In March 2008, Ter-Petrosyan was again nominated for President and lost Sargsyan. By this time the inhabitants of Karabakh headed by outgoing President Robert Kocharian already tightly controlled what is called “administrative resource” and, rather harshly suppressed protests in Yerevan. Then there were no human casualties and became standard charges demonstrators in “preparing provocations”.
I think the fate of the leader of the Armenian opposition (and, incidentally, the heir to the policy of Levon Ter-Petrosyan) Nikol Pashinian and his companions sealed them, most likely, go to jail. It Pashinyan has managed to sit out in 2009-2011 for the organization of the 2008 protests.
Putin hopes for Sargsyan
The Kremlin expects Sargsyan decisive action. Because of the opposition, among other things, criticized the country’s membership in the Eurasian Union and require the signing of the Association agreement with the EU. In 2013, Sargsyan and Yanukovych, refused to do so, under strong pressure from official Russia. According to rumors, the Kremlin then explicitly threatened the President that his family’s business in Russia waiting for the sad fate if the summit of “Eastern partnership” in Vilnius he decides to put his name under the partnership agreement with the EU.
Although since then, Yerevan has been able to start some of the reforms in partnership with the European Union, the society does not particularly believe that they will lead to the eradication of the main problems of the country, low living standards, corruption, and stalemate in the Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan.
The fact that the Karabakh clan, which controls much of the Armenian economy, making it almost a family business, causing more outrage, especially in the capital where people from the unrecognized Republic are perceived as strangers. But the main thing is the feeling of stagnation and humiliation that people experience when the ruling elite is transformed into a closed club life leaders.
And that, of course, do not understand in Moscow. As soon as the first protesters took to the streets of Yerevan, the Kremlin’s pocket resource “Sight”, often depicting and explaining the views of the Kremlin, immediately published an article in which he declared the organizers of the protests “grant” – that is, “agents of the West.” That’s the essence of the policy of Russia towards the Caucasian ally.
In Armenia, the Kremlin once again makes a mistake
In Armenia, in General, like Russia and Russian. For the country’s close ties with Moscow – historical tradition and national interest. Russia is de facto the guarantor of the independence and sovereignty of the Armenian state. But Moscow, it seems, makes the same mistake that earlier in Georgia and Ukraine relies on corrupt leaders who despise democracy, based on the paternalistic-minded segments of the population. Between entourage “late” Shevardnadze, Donetsk bandits Yanukovych and Sargsyan Karabakh veterans, at first glance, so different, in fact a lot in common.
Armenian opposition criticizes the Eurasian Union. She claims that it is disadvantageous to the country that he was driven by force hail from Moscow. This is largely true. Relations with the West, especially the European Union, was in Armenia not so much a real alternative to relations with the Northern neighbor, as the symbol of dissatisfaction with the Kremlin’s attitude to the Armenians as allies, but as vassals. “You will not get anywhere! Suffer and be silent!” – this is the message of the Russian leadership in Armenian society.
But the residents of Yerevan and other Armenian cities not keep silent any longer want. Especially considering that in 2018 on the street for the first time EN masse the generation of 15-20-year – olds- those who do not remember the USSR. From Nikol Pashinian and Alexei Navalny are very different biographies. But they share is support for young people, for which that saltanovskaya that Putin’s “stability” means stagnation, corruption and lack of prospects.
I have no doubt that the Yerevan government nor stop at nothing to suppress the protests. I am also sure that it will not stop the Armenian society. It looks to its leaders of responsibility, integrity and the ability to formulate a clear perspective of the future. If the Armenian “elitist” don’t listen to the people, they face the unenviable future and Russia’s policy in the region – another defeat.
A few hours after the publication of this review Serzh Sargsyan resigned as Prime Minister. This is the case, I’m glad I was partially wrong. You’d probably guess that in a country with a population of three million, where everyone knows everyone else, go for the shedding of blood is extremely difficult. The ex-President of Armenia should pay tribute: as Leonid Kuchma in similar circumstances in 2004, he refused to fight against fellow citizens. Although just 10 years ago, during demonstrations in support of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, representatives of the “Karabakh clan” violence is not the Scarecrow. So the situation has really changed.
It is clear that the current political leadership of Armenia will try to “mix up” the protest and to leave everything as is, minus Sargsyan. Moscow clearly does not want the country-the ally of political and economic reforms, as did not used, can not and does not want to do business in the former Soviet Union with democratic leaders. In some sense, the Armenian opposition is now much more difficult task than the removal from power of Pres.
Immediately rumors that Sargsyan asked to leave the Kremlin not to aggravate the situation even more. I’m sure it’s not. How else to explain congratulations on your appointment to the post of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent Sargsyan a few days ago?
The incident – the failure of the policy of Moscow, has long made a bet solely on Sargsyan and his entourage. Statement by Dmitry Peskov that what is happening is an internal affair of Armenia, too does not fit with the previous response to the protests, “subtle” hints of the intervention of the West, which was full of Pro-Kremlin media. The question arises: if the Kremlin is unable to predict events in the state, with whom relations – nowhere near, what should the current foreign policy is primarily determined by the Kremlin and the security services, in addition imbued with corruption? In the history of protests in Armenia manifested its main feature – the inability and unwillingness to consider the role of civil society in the life of Nations. The unwillingness and inability will lead the Kremlin to losing. And not only abroad.