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Armenian political crisis: consequences of the “peaceful revolution”

The resignation of Prime Minister Sargsyan shook the situation in Armenia. Now the country is waiting for the election of a new head of government.

Nikol Pashinyan. Photo by Asatur Yesayanets, Sputnik-Armenia
Nikol Pashinyan. Photo by Asatur Yesayanets, Sputnik-Armenia

In mid-April  mass protests took place in Armenia , several hundred thousand people took part in it. Peaceful mass actions led to the resignation of the head of state – Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. His departure changed the political situation in the Transcaucasian republic.

Protest actions, which were nicknamed “peaceful revolution” in Armenia, were led by the leader of the liberal-opposition bloc “Elk” (“Exit”) Nikol Pashinyan. Now he is preparing to deprive the authorities of the main political force – the “Republican Party of Armenia” (RPA), which was headed by Sargsyan.

“All power to the people”

At the beginning of the protests many residents of Armenia were ready to put up with the actually third term of Sargsyan, who was the president of the republic for the previous ten years and initially was not going to go on this term. In 2014, Sargsyan publicly promised not to advance any more to the presidential or premier posts – he did not keep his promise.

After street protests organized by Pashinyan, the Armenian people changed their views of political life in his country. The leader of the liberal opposition was able not only to unite the population in one week, but also to instill in him the norms of civil society.

Pashinyan helps ordinary people to achieve their goals, but at the same time engaged in political education. For example, he holds meetings with Republicans in the presence of journalists, not only to inform the public about the content of the talks, but also to show ordinary citizens their power over politicians and officials.

Nikol Pashinyan at the negotiations at the Marriot Hotel in Yerevan. Photo by Asatur Yesayanets, Sputnik-Armenia
Nikol Pashinyan at the negotiations at the Marriot Hotel in Yerevan. Photo by Asatur Yesayanets, Sputnik-Armenia

Russia and Armenia after protests

After Sargsyan’s departure, his deputy Karen Karapetyan, a former top manager of Gazprom, who has strong ties with Russia and is ideally suited for the role of candidate from Moscow, temporarily took his place. However, on April 28, RPA representatives stated that their party would not nominate its candidate for the new elections of the prime minister.

Speaking about the Russian view of what is happening in Armenia, it is worth mentioning some mistakes that are made in the Russian media.

First, protests in Armenian cities can not be called “Maidan” and compare with the Ukrainian crisis. Protests in Kiev provoked foreign policy reasons – first of all, the refusal of President Yanukovych to sign an association agreement with the European Union. The Armenian crisis is purely internal political.

Secondly, Pashinyan did not say that Armenia should withdraw from the Eurasian Economic Union or the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The leader of the Armenian opposition understands Russia’s weight in matters of regional stability and does not persuade to abandon such a close and strong ally.

Thirdly, during the protests against Sargsyan, there were no anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia. Local residents understand that stability of the situation in Transcaucasia depends on relations with Russia, including a further peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The alignment of forces

In early May, the National Assembly of Armenia will elect a new Prime Minister, and subsequently appoint a date for early parliamentary elections. Prior to voting, the country will be headed by the elected head of government.

In total there are 105 deputies in the National Assembly. Now they represent four political forces – the right-conservative “Republican Party”, the centrist party “Prosperous Armenia”, the liberal bloc “Elk” and the previously banned left-nationalist party “Dashnaktsutyun” (“Armenian Revolutionary Commonwealth”).

Faction of the National Assembly of Armenia. From the right to the left - "Republican Party", "Prosperous Armenia", "Elk" bloc and "Dashnaktsutyun" party. Original Wikimedia Commons
Faction of the National Assembly of Armenia. From the right to the left – “Republican Party”, “Prosperous Armenia”, “Elk” bloc and “Dashnaktsutyun” party. Original Wikimedia Commons

Pashinyan became the candidate of nine members of the “Elk” bloc, who was also supported by 38 deputies from “Prosperous Armenia” and “Dashnaktsutyun”. However, for the election he needs to collect at least 53 votes.

As mentioned above, the “Republican Party” will not nominate its candidate. Its faction consists of 58 deputies and remains the most numerous. Some Republicans have already expressed support for Pashinyan – at least, from the words of the politician himself.

The Armenian political crisis should be resolved on May 1, when there will be a vote in the National Assembly. But even now one can say that Armenia will never again be the same – the process of formation of civil society has come to the end in the country. And it was completed by Nikol Pashninyan, around which the whole Armenian opposition has now united.

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