Thursday, 10 May 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... political deal emerge in Armenia

Click on attachment to view how the Hayasdantsis
agitated last week - it's a serious situation but humour
is to be found nevertheless.

May 3 2018
Signs of political deal emerge in Armenia after weeks of crisis
Hasmik Mkrtchyan, Margarita Antidze

Signs of a tentative deal to end Armenia’s political crisis emerged on Thursday after the ruling party said the country would get a new prime minister next week and a lawmaker who has led street protests said he was on track to be elected. 

Armenia, a close Russian ally, has been shaken by nearly three weeks of demonstrations fuelled by public anger over perceived political cronyism and official corruption, prompting the prime minister, who led the country as president for a decade until earlier this year, to resign. 
The Kremlin, which has troops in the landlocked ex-Soviet state, said on Thursday it was watching closely and hoped that whatever the outcome the two countries would remain firm allies. 

Moscow has exercised restraint so far. But it is wary that Armenia could go the same way as Ukraine in 2014, where an uprising swept to power new leaders who moved their country closer to the West. 

Signs of a compromise that pointed to a peaceful resolution of the political crisis began to emerge on Thursday. 

Vahram Baghdasaryan, head of the ruling Republican Party in parliament, held talks with protest leader Nikol Pashinyan, a bearded 42-year-old former journalist who sports camouflage T-shirts with a black baseball cap while rallying supporters. 

After the talks, Baghdasaryan said his party was ready, at least in principle, to back Pashinyan for the job of premier next week. 

The apparent climb down — the Republican Party on Tuesday blocked Pashinyan’s candidacy despite previously saying it would not stand in his way — came after a day of civil disobedience on Wednesday which brought parts of the country to a standstill. 

Baghdasaryan told Reuters after the talks that his party would support anyone on May 8 - including Pashinyan - if the candidate enjoyed the backing of one third of lawmakers, something Pashinyan secured on Thursday. 
“We will provide support to the candidate put forward by one third of parliament’s deputies whether it’s Pashinyan or someone else, and on May 8 Armenia will have a prime minister,” said Baghdasaryan. 

Pashinyan is the only candidate to have declared he is running and it was unclear whether another candidate might emerge. 

May 8 is when parliament plans to elect Armenia’s next premier. If it fails to do so at what would be its second attempt, the legislature will be dissolved and early parliamentary elections called. 

Pashinyan confirmed in a video he posted to social media that the ruling party had agreed to back what he called “the people’s candidate” for the prime minister’s job, a phrase he has repeatedly used to describe himself. 
He had agreed on Wednesday to pause his campaign of civil disobedience while he sought assurances that the Republican Party would support him, stoking speculation that the ruling elite had agreed to back him on condition he ended the protests. 

Pashinyan said in the same video that his own candidacy for the premiership had garnered the necessary number of signatures and was being officially registered with the authorities. 

In a move that looked calculated to keep up pressure on the authorities, he called on his supporters to gather in the centre of Yerevan, the Armenian capital, on May 8 and to stand by for further announcements. 

Later on Thursday, he issued a statement saying he had met the Russian, U.S., EU and Georgian ambassadors. 
“I informed the ambassadors about the agreements which have been reached on resolving the domestic crisis,” he said. 

The crisis was sparked when Armenia’s veteran leader Serzh Sarksyan, forbidden by the constitution from standing for a third term as president after a decade in office, tried to become prime minister last month. 
His switch to the new job triggered protests by people who saw it as a cynical ploy to hang onto power, and he stepped down after just a week. The ruling elite has since dug in its heels and resisted ceding power to Pashinyan. 

Not all Armenians back the protests. Some see Pashinyan as a demagogue who is trying to oust the country’s democratically elected leaders by whipping up public anger. 

Additonal reporting by Masha Tsvetkova in Moscow; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Richard Balmforth

RFE/RL Report
President Hails ‘Democratic Developments’ In Armenia
May 03, 2018

President Armen Sarkissian on Thursday praised the Republican Party (HHK) for effectively agreeing to hand over power to opposition leader Nikol Pashinian, 
saying that the move has “brought to a logical onclusion democratic developments” in Armenia.

“In this regard, I salute the responsible stance of the democratic movement led by Nikol Pashinian, the Republican Party of Armenia, the Prosperous Armenia 
Party, Yelk coalition and the ARF [Dashnaktsutyun] which emanates for the primary interests of Armenia and our people and opens the door for national accord,” Sarkissian said in a statement.

“With this, our nation has proved once again that at fateful moments we are able to unite and make decisions which benefit the entire nation,” he said.

“We are facing challenges, and I am confident that on May 8 in the name of reformation the achievements of the pan-national movement will be secured … It will further elevate our reputation and standing in the world,” added Sarkissian.

The Armenian parliament is scheduled to meet and again try to elect the next prime minister on May 8. Leaders of the HHK majority in the National Assembly 
have indicated that Pashinian will garner enough votes to succeed HHK leader Serzh Sarkisian as premier.

Armen Sarkissian, who has largely ceremonial powers, stood by his view that the dramatic events of the last few weeks have marked the beginning of a “new Armenia.” He again paid tribute to young Armenians who have been at the forefront of the unprecedented protest movement led by Pashinian.

“I am proud of our nation, I am proud of dignified Armenian citizens, I am proud of our unity and solidarity. I am confident and I can see that we have already started to create a new Armenia,” concluded the president.

Armenia: Gyumri's forgotten quake survivors share election hopes Armenian families still living in squalid conditions ever since a devastating earthquake struck Gyumri 30 years ago, are hoping their plight is about to end with the election of a new prime minister.
Robin Forestier-Walker 

Armenia: Gyumri's forgotten quake survivors share election hopes Armenian families still living in squalid conditions ever since a devastating earthquake struck Gyumri 30 years ago, are hoping their plight is about to end with the election of a new prime minister.

Armenia escapes its post-Soviet malaise
by D Ignatius
Armenia appears at last to be breaking with its post-Soviet malaise and embracing democratic change, thanks to a grass-roots movement that has found a way, for now, to straddle Russia and the West.

Tens of thousands of people thronged Yerevan’s central square Wednesday night, chanting “Victory! Victory!” in what one Armenian reform supporter in the United States told me was “a celebration of the country as much as a protest.” The movement’s mass street demonstrations over the past month have deposed the prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, and this week appeared ready to topple his long-entrenched ruling party.

Videos circulating on social media Wednesday captured a country embracing the reform movement headed by Nikol Pashinyan, who is seeking to replace Sargsyan. Responding to Pashinyan’s call to shut down the capital, conservatory students played classical music at one intersection; protesters did a line dance at another; a small boy blocked a street with a lineup of toy cars, in a photo circulated by CNN.

Pashinyan made what sounded almost like a victory statement Wednesday, when he told the crowd, “Now, we will stop our actions for a while and rest.” On Tuesday, the Armenian parliament, controlled by Sargsyan’s party, had narrowly defeated Pashinyan’s bid to form a new government. But another vote is scheduled for May 8, and the ruling Republican Party signaled it won’t oppose the reformer.

If Pashinyan succeeds in establishing a new government, it will be in large part because the police and army refused to open fire on the protesters who turned out in huge numbers to support him. This refusal to kill fellow citizens is often the fulcrum of social change; it’s especially powerful in Armenia, which last month commemorated the anniversary of the 1915 genocide by Ottoman Turks that left more than a million Armenians dead.

Armenia’s basic political dilemma over the past 25 years has been how to reconcile its pro-Western political sympathies with its military dependence on Russia. This impasse helped foster a circle of pro-Moscow oligarchs around Sargsyan, who siphoned much of the country’s wealth. For all the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, a corrupt and authoritarian Armenia never achieved the capitalist takeoff of some other former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries following the Soviet Union’s demise in 1991.

Reformers asked why Armenia ranked below many other former Soviet-bloc countries in measures of political freedom, rule of law and economic growth. The Policy Forum Armenia, an activist group based in Washington, has compiled a series of well-documented reports on corruption, human rights and legal-reform issues.
The popular uprising has been tolerated, so far, by Russian President Vladimir Putin. He seems to have decided that it was better to sacrifice his ally, Sargsyan, than to risk losing Armenia itself. “He wanted to avoid another Ukraine,” a reform leader told me Wednesday. Because of the long kinship between Russia and Armenia, the images of protest in Yerevan may have a galvanizing effect in Russia, too.

Pashinyan broke through the post-Soviet morass for several reasons, his reform movement colleagues argue. First, his movement has been nonviolent and broadly based, from young people to grandmothers; “Arms up,” symbolizing civil disobedience, became a slogan of the protesters who joined Pashinyan’s march on Yerevan last month that culminated in Sargsyan’s resignation. Second, Pashinyan avoided taking sides between Russia and the West. He has walked a narrow line in what one reform leader told me was an “Armenia-centric” approach. He has reassured Moscow by saying that he doesn’t intend to withdraw from military and trade pacts with Russia if he becomes prime minister. At the same time, his pro-democracy movement has roused sympathy in Europe and the United States, offering the prospect of wider friendships for the small, embattled nation.

The Armenian reform movement has been building for the past two years, ever since armed protesters seized a police station in Yerevan in July 2016 and held it for two weeks, to protest what rebels claimed was the government’s political repression, corruption and vacillation on the emotional issue of Karabakh, an Armenian-populated enclave seized from Azerbaijan in a bloody war in 1994.

“We refuse to become a region of Russia,” proclaimed one of the rebels allied with Jirair Sefilian, a Lebanese-born former Armenian military leader who was one of the organizers of the 2016 protest, which took the name “Founding Parliament.” Sefilian would be a candidate for defense minister if Pashinyan succeeds in forming a new government, though his strong pro-Western sympathies might antagonize Moscow.

Pashinyan’s movement promises change, but as is often the case with grass-roots uprisings, the details are fuzzy. His group is called “Civil Contract,” built on a pledge that a new government will deliver specific reform commitments to the people. Even his movement’s supporters admit they aren’t sure yet what that agenda might include. But in the excitement of Wednesday’s mass protest, the details could wait.

The Western Mail, Wales, UK
May 2, 2018 Wednesday
Wales and Armenia twinned in Senedd's landscape paintings
by Martin Shipton

An exhibition of paintings at the Senedd illustrates the close ties between Wales and Armenia, explains Martin Shipton

WALES and Armenia are roughly the same size in terms of population - and a compelling exhibition of impressionist paintings near the Senedd's public café shows how there are strong similarities between the countries' hilly landscapes too.
A number of books have been written about the links that have been established between the two nations: their common ecclesiastical heritage, for example.
The pictures, curated by Welsh Armenian couple Gary and Mariam Torosyan, sometimes leave the viewer wondering which country is being depicted.
Some of the paintings on display are the work of Mariam, who was born in Armenia's capital, Yerevan, and who trained in art school in Russia.
Gary, who was born in Cardiff and whose father, John, is an energetic spokesman for the small Welsh Armenian community, said: "It's a collection of mostly Armenian artworks, which are here to show Armenian culture and the Armenian style of painting. Some of the artists are quite well known in Armenian circles, while some are not so well known.
"The most prominent is probably Lems Nersisyan, and there's also Faenberg Sargsyan. Their paintings are not that valuable at the moment, but hopefully one day they will be.
"Most of the paintings are impressionistic landscapes. There are a couple of caricatures too.
"We also included some paintings by Llinos Thomas, the daughter of Canon Patrick Thomas of Carmarthen [who has written two books about Armenia]. We've tried to put a few paintings in that show the link between Wales and Armenia."
A couple of scenes painted by Mariam - one of Armenia, the other of Wales - are very similar, especially given her style of painting.
There are also Welsh crosses and Armenian crosses in the exhibition, demonstrating the similar Christian heritages of the two countries.
Mariam said: "If you see the colours of the paintings, you can understand how similar the mountain landscapes are in both countries."
Gary said: "I liken the Brecon Beacons to the Armenian Highlands. If you get a hot summer in Wales, then the Brecon Beacons turn all yellow. It's exactly what happens in Armenia. Because it's a lot warmer climate you get it every year there.
"It's a mountainous country - so is Wales. It's about the same size and people don't look that different.
"I don't know if there's a proven link, but it's been said the Welsh and Armenians come from the same people a very long time ago. One comparison is certainly the friendliness of the people. For us, as a community, we certainly feel very at home here.
"There have been Armenians living in Wales for many years: there was certainly a community here before my grandfather came. They moved to Wales in the 1970s, although they lived in the UK from the 1960s. What's nice about Cardiff is it's very similar to Yerevan in terms of population."
The exhibition can be seen until May 25.

Ealing Times, UK
May 1, 2018 Tuesday
Armenian Genocide memorial takes place in Ealing Green around commemorative tree
 by Meena Toor
THE last memorial ceremony of the year for the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide took place in Ealing last weekend.
Members of the Armenian community, Homenetmen Scouts and Sunday school groups gathered in Ealing Green on Saturday April 28 at the commemorative apricot tree, planted in memory of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
The memorial service was the last event of the year organised by the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, a committee of the Armenian Community and Church Council of Great Britain that aims to promote the language, history and culture of the Armenian people.
"Today's genocide memorial event in Ealing was I think a great success. We had a good turnout in terms of members of the public and Armenians," said Tekeyan Cultural Association chairman Dr Garen Arevian.
 "The apricot tree is a symbol of longevity, hope, perseverance and the scientist name of Apricots is Prunus Armeniaca, so the actual scientific name is very apt in terms of memorialising the genocide."
The genocide, which occurred during World War I, saw the Ottoman government kill between 600,000 and 1.5m Armenians from Turkey.
Turkey continues their official stance of not recognising the genocide took place, and article 301 of its Penal Code introduced in 2005 makes it illegal to publish material insulting the Turkish nation.
Ealing has the largest Armenian community in all London boroughs, and has shown support for its history, by voting to officially recognise the genocide in a full council meeting on December 14 2010.
Stephen Pound, MP for Ealing North, said: "Turkey - whether it is Ottoman Turkey or modern Turkey - must never ever be allowed to deny responsibility for the genocide that took place then. They must never ever be allowed to deny that."
The ceremony ended with Bishop Hovakim Manukyan, of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom, saying a prayer, and then the community sang the Armenian national anthem together.
Vahan Krikorian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of the United Kingdom, said: "I think that the message that this event in Ealing, the march that took place in London, and the events organised by Armenian communities across the globe, sends to Turkey is that 103 years might have passed, but we will never forget and we will never lessen our demands for recognition."
The Turkish embassy in London did not comment by the time this article went to print.

La Croix International
May 1, 2018 Tuesday
Armenia's Apostolic Church retains considerable influence

Although it has no links with the head of government, the church has deep links with various state institutions

An unprecedented demonstration in the streets of the Armenian capital of Erevan has already been baptized as the “Velvet Revolution” in a nod to the pacifist revolution that brought down Czechoslovakia’s communist regime in 1989.

Over the last two weeks, the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus region has been shaken by the forced resignation of prime minister, Serge Sarkissian, who was previously national president from 2008-2018.

Although the Armenian parliament is due to meet in an extraordinary session on May 1 to appoint Sarkissian’s successor, demonstrations in support of his opponent and protest leader, Nikol Pachinian, have not faltered.
This has occurred despite mediation efforts by Catholic Patriarch Karekin II, the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who called for resolution of the issues “at the negotiating table and not in the streets.”

“Consistent with a traditionally very loyalist position, he has received a series of visits from senior government representatives in recent days,” said Philip Sukiasyan, a historian and a deacon of the Armenian Church.
“He also took part in a summit consultation with the government and the opposition during which he was obliged to promote the path of mediation.
“Moreover, several priests attempted to play a peace-making role during the protests to avoid violence,” Sukiasyan said.

The Armenian Apostolic Church continues to play a key political role in this small nation of 3 million inhabitants, of whom 92 percent belong to the church, according to figures from the Observatory of Religious Freedom.
“Despite the fact that it has no links in the strict sense with the head of government, it has a very particular status,” said Laurence Leylekian, a political analyst for the Armenian Observatory.

“Although the country is not a theocracy, it is a national church, which has very deep links with various institutions,” he said.

For centuries, the church played “the role of substitute for the state within the Turkish and Russian empires” in the absence of an established political structure from the 14th century until 1918.

The church’s front line role also needs to be understood as part of an even older tradition in which Armenia claims to be the first country in the world to have adopted Christianity as its state religion in the year 301 AD.

Armenia’s current national constitution still recognizes this.

“The Holy Armenian Apostolic Church has the exceptional mission of national church in the spiritual life of the Armenian people, its role in the development of national culture and the preservation of national identity,” the constitution reads.

Hence, it is quite common to find representatives of the local clergy attending official ceremonies.
“There is a very strong identification of the church with the body of the nation,” Leylekian said.
Thus, the “pope of the Armenians” blessed the president when he took up his position.
“The church has a major influence on the population, which is very religious, and plays a major role in social evolution, including issues such as homosexual marriage, or even homosexuality, which is looked down on in the country,” Leylekian said.

“Many progressive people consider that if there has been no progress on these issues, it is in large part due to the strength of the institution,” he said.

“We have witnessed a major revival of religion in Armenia since the time of Perestroika (from 1985 to 1989) of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev,” said Sukiasyan.

“This is visible today in the number of churches being built, the increasing number of seminarians, religious education in public schools and even in the launch of a television channel belonging to the Armenian Church,” he said.

Open Democracy
May 3 2018
A revolution of values: freedom, responsibility and courage in Armenia's Velvet Revolution 
 Armine Ishkanian 

Armenia's emerging revolution isn't about geopolitics or foreign relations, but values. 

In 1978. Vaclav Havel wrote The Power of the Powerless, in which he argued against the communist regime, maintaining that it forced people to “live in a lie”. For Havel, the resistance against the lie was to begin living in the truth and to challenge one’s own powerlessness through recognising one’s agency. Fast forward 40 years, and we are now witnessing a new velvet revolution in post-socialist Armenia, a country which proclaimed its independence from Soviet rule in 1991, but which has long struggled to create a democracy. More than anything else, this is a revolution about values. It is about the values of Armenian society and its domestic, socio-economic and political realities. The revolution is not about geopolitics or foreign relations.

Since mid-April Armenian citizens, led and inspired by MP Nikol Pashinyan from the Yelk (Way Out) Alliance, have begun to live in the truth as they acknowledge their agency, voice, and power. What began with Pashinyan’s “Take A Step” action, has transformed into a national, some might say even international, movement where Armenian citizens and Armenians living in the diaspora have come together to challenge and reject Serzh Sargsyan (former President from 2008-2018, and former Prime Minister in 2018) and his Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). Taking to the streets and squares in Yerevan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, and smaller towns and villages throughout the country as well as in Los Angeles, Brussels, and London, they have gathered to express their anger and discontent with the morally bankrupt and kleptocratic, oligarchic RPA regime which has ruled the country for two decades.

Through these actions Armenia’s citizens, who some had described as apathetic, fatalistic, and demoralised, began to challenge the regime’s hold on power and its legitimacy to govern. Today, per official statistics, over one third of Armenians live in poverty and the country’s population has declined below threef million due to both emigration and a declining birth rate. On the one hand, there is a desire to be rid of the oligarchic system of governance and to implement a more democratic and just system of governance which recognises and respects the rule of law and the human rights of Armenia’s citizens. On the other hand, there is a desire to live in a fairer society, where citizens live with dignity and where nepotism and corruption do not lead to extremes of social and income inequality and poverty.

The protesters are rejecting the RPA and its discredited practices and values, which include greed, corruption, nepotism, subservience, violence, and intolerance, and in their place they are advocating new values such as freedom, dignity, tolerance, love, courage, and justice. These lofty ideals have emerged in the revolutionary euphoria which has seized the country, but the revolutionary period is transitory. It remains to be seen how things will develop afterwards, but for now, these ideals and values inform, inspire, and motivate people to take action.

Love and tolerance

As many have already noted, these protests draw from all segments of Armenian society. People from all classes, walks of life, and political and ideological persuasions have united in their rejection of the regime. People hold banners proclaiming the revolution as one of “love and tolerance”, rather than of hate and revenge. People in the streets and squares have begun to treat each other with more kindness, tolerance, and courtesy.
More and more women, young people, and disabled people, are involved in these protests. Alongside Pashinyan, Zaruhi Batoyan, a disabled activist and Yelk Alliance member of the Yerevan Council of Elders, has spoken eloquently from the dais rallying people to take action. Batoyan was also instrumental in organising the ‘pots and pans’ action that has now become an almost nightly event as people bang pots and pans together from 23:00-23:15 as a form of protest. The action is meant to allow those, who for whatever reason cannot leave their homes to attend the protests in the square, to express their discontent in this way.

Inclusion and tolerance are new values to Armenian society, where not only disabled people, but also people who identify as LGBT have faced discrimination, marginalisation, and even violence. Indeed, the RPA old-guard has used the presence of feminists and LGBT activists involved in the movement to attack Pashinyan as promoting "western values". And to be sure, the old divisions may return after the revolutionary euphoria passes, but for now, suited doctors and lawyers are rallying and marching alongside young tattooed hipsters, grizzly-bearded old men, and vocal young feminists, in an atmosphere characterised by peace, joy, and tolerance.


One of the key slogans of this revolution, alongside, “Reject Serzh” and “With courage” (dukhov), is “We are the owners of our country”. Unlike the previous two, the latter slogan has been around for nearly a decade and was adopted by different movements ranging from the youth-led Occupy Mashtots Park movement in 2012 to the Sasna Dzrer group led by armed veterans of the Karabakh conflict which captured and held a police station in Yerevan in 2016. In this context, being the owner of one’s country means that people become active subjects rather than passive and silent bystanders in society.

Instead of privately complaining about the status quo, they begin to take public action to change their lives and their society. In the midst of this velvet revolution, people are recognising their power and agency. This can be observed not only through the acts of civil disobedience of strikes and blocking roads, but smaller actions such as people taking to the streets after the demonstrations with brooms and bin bags to clean the streets of the debris from the previous night’s demonstration. This responsibility is not only about one’s own actions, but also a sense of responsibility towards others in society and for the country’s future.
Courage, freedom and justice

“With courage” (dukhov) has become a rallying cry as protesters have rejected the regime’s attempt to rule by intimidation and fear-mongering, as well as the corruption and nepotistic politics which had become endemic in the few years where particular individuals and their clans seized political power and amassed huge fortunes that were hidden away in offshore accounts. They want to live free from fear, intimidation, and in a country where rule of law and justice are respected.
Over the past two decades, the oligarchic regime, by seizing both the political and economic sectors, used brute force and economic repression to extend and consolidate its hold on power. Oligarch politicians, such as MP Samvel Aleksanyan (Lfik Samo) and former Prime Minister Hovik (the Mouse) Abrahamyan, are much-reviled figures in Armenian society. As part of the RPA led government, they have operated with impunity, intimidation, and violence, propagating a politics of fear.

There are too many cases of oligarchs and RPA politicians acting with violence and impunity, but one very recent incident stands out as a shining example of their disregard for the hardships faced by the population. In December 2017, in the lead-up to the holiday season, food prices sharply increased. In response to growing public dissatisfaction with the unreasonable price hikes, RPA MP and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Healthcare and Social Welfare, Hakob Hakobyan told journalists: “Price hikes won’t impact the poor, because they don’t have money and essentially they aren’t able to buy anything. They don’t buy expensive products such as butter or meat, because they don’t have [money].”

In support of his RPA colleague, MP and the Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Economy, Khosrov Harutyunyan, added: “Poor people don’t have money, hence they don’t buy anything. What difference does it make if meat is expensive or cheap,” adding that “potato eaters don’t eat meat.” This incident illustrates RPA politicians’ disconnect from society and shows their cynicism and lack of responsibility as public servants for improving the livelihoods and wellbeing of those they were elected to serve.

Where things stand at present

Events are rapidly developing and predicting where they will lead is a fool’s errand. While Sargsyan resigned as Prime Minister on 23 April, it has now become clear that he is operating from the shadows and neither he nor his party are ready to let go of the reins of power. Many in Armenia argue that whoever comes to power must have Moscow’s tacit approval. For this reason, Pashinyan, while advocating for regime change, continues to publicly proclaim that he will not shift the country’s foreign policy stance, especially with regards to its relationship to its powerful neighbour to the north.

After Parliament failed to elect Pashinyan to the post of Prime Minister on 1 May, it was announced on 2 May that a new vote will take place in Parliament on 8 May. The candidate that receives one-thirds of the vote will become the new Prime Minister. While the RPA has said it will not nominate a candidate, many mistrust the party and fear it will once again implement its traditional tactics of intimidation to shape the electoral outcome in their favour. But can such tactics succeed given that hundreds of thousands of Armenians have now found their voice, their power, and now see themselves as history makers and the owners of their country? Can violence and bloodshed be avoided in a context where passions and emotions are running high? As the revolution continues to be livestreamed, we shall have to wait and see.

This article originally appeared on the London School of Economics EUROPP blog. It gives the views of the author, not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy or the London School of Economics.

Armine Ishkanian is Associate Professor at the London School of Economics. She has expertise in civil society, democratisation, gender, and development in the post-socialist countries of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

No comments: