Home » Armenia urged to wake up – Mir – Kommersant

Armenia urged to wake up – Mir – Kommersant

by archyde

The Armenian people have clearly shown their disagreement with the policy of the current authorities and now it is necessary to force them to capitulate. This was stated by the participants of the largest opposition rally in recent months, held on May 1 in the center of Yerevan. Opponents of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan set up tents in France Square and warned that they would completely block roads in the center of the capital and in other cities as early as Monday. In fact, the tactics that brought Mr. Pashinyan to power in 2018 are now being used. True, in terms of scale, the current shares are not comparable with those – at least not yet. With details from Yerevan – Kommersant correspondents Pavel Tarasenko i Arshaluys Mgdesyan.

Without “hatred, enmity and incitement to violence”

The stakes on the eve of the May Day rally near one of the symbols of Yerevan – the opera house – raised both sides of the confrontation that was gaining momentum. The oppositionists said that it would be a decisive battle with the “traitor Nikol”, who is accused of wanting to surrender positions to Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The authorities warned the activists against provocations and forceful actions, making it clear that they would not go unanswered.

Thus, the National Security Service of Armenia reported that “at present, there is a real danger of organizing and conducting mass riots in the country.” The security forces urged “not to succumb to possible provocations, to show high civic responsibility, to refrain from unacceptable practices of inciting hatred, enmity, incitement to violence.” The Prosecutor General’s Office promised that “those who attempted to violate the rule of law will be unconditionally brought to proportionate legal responsibility.” And the police reminded that weapons and other items that can be used as such cannot be brought to the rally.

Against this background, it seemed to many in Armenia that the police report, published ten hours before the rally, was not accidental: on the highway from the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) to Yerevan, the police stopped a car, during the inspection of which two Kalashnikov light machine guns were found. One of the three people in the car was arrested.

In the meantime, pro-government Armenian Telegram channels were spreading information that the most radical oppositionists, representatives of the Dashnaktsutyun party headed by the vice-speaker of parliament Ishkhan Saghatelyan, allegedly insist that the government building on Republic Square should be seized.

The organizers of the Sunday action themselves denied this in every possible way. “Our struggle is not with law enforcement agencies, not with the police. We rule out any hostility and disrespect for the police and other law enforcement officers,” said Artur Vanetsyan, a representative of ex-president Serzh Sargsyan’s “I have the honor” bloc. He and his like-minded people drew attention to the fact that they would participate in the rally along with their children, wives and parents. Representatives of the Armenian Apostolic Church also announced their presence at the rally – precisely “to mitigate possible tensions” – as well.

It is not known what played a decisive role, but by Sunday evening no major incidents were actually recorded.

Is that a small clash with the police occurred when the opposition in the midst of the rally began to set up tents on France Square. However, it did not develop into anything serious: tents and awnings were successfully installed, and some entrances to the square were blocked by benches and garbage cans.

“We woke up, rose to our feet”

Meanwhile, the most militant speeches were heard from the podium. And also songs. In particular, the rally participants sang “Zartnir, lao” (“Wake up, my son”) in chorus, a revolutionary song written in the 1890s about the struggle of Armenians for freedom from the Turkish yoke. The speech in the song, which has become a symbol of the current wave of protests, is about the city of Mush, which was once part of Greater Armenia (existed from the end of the 4th century BC to 428 AD), and then became part of the Ottoman Empire ( and now also belongs to Turkey).

Mush was remembered at the rally in relation to contemporary events. “We will not let the fate of the people of Mush repeat itself. We woke up, got to our feet. We will become stronger, we will create in our homeland, in Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh.— “B”). We have come out to fight for peace, for the real world, we do not want a new war,” Aram Vardevanyan, deputy from the “Armenia” faction, convinced the audience (and in absentia the current leadership of the country) from the rostrum.

At the same time, the oppositionists consider the path to peace chosen by Nikol Pashinyan and his associates to be catastrophic for the country.

“When the person occupying the chair of the prime minister announced the lowering of the threshold of the Armenian side’s demands on the status of Karabakh, and most importantly, he stated that there was an opportunity to stop the war and avoid casualties (with the consent of the Armenian side to cede the regions around Karabakh to Azerbaijan.— “B”), I realized that I no longer have the right to stay at home,” Artur Vanetsyan from “I Have the Honor” said at the rally. “We must take to the streets and put an end to all this.”

Recall that earlier Nikol Pashinyan said, commenting on the negotiations with Baku: “If in the past we laid the basis for the status of Karabakh, from which the issues of guarantees of security and rights followed, now we lay the basis for guarantees of security and rights, from which follows the issue of status. In this situation, the issue of status is not a goal, but a means of ensuring the security and rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The oppositionists are dissatisfied with both the plans to conclude a peace treaty with Azerbaijan and their readiness, in their opinion, to make excessive concessions to the Turkish leadership (the next meeting of the negotiators of the two countries will take place on May 3). “The current authorities are telling the people that Turkey and Azerbaijan are strong, so we must submit to them. No, a Turk cannot bring us to our knees. We must continue our struggle to the end,” said, in particular, during the rally, the head of the opposition “Armenia” faction, ex-Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan.

Mr. Ohanyan argued at the rally that during the 44-day war of 2020, the Armenians could well do without such painful territorial losses – but the authorities led by Nikol Pashinyan failed this task. Tigran Abrahamyan, a representative of the “I have the Honor” faction, agreed with the thesis about the mediocrity of the authorities: they allegedly invested more than $280 million in the army, but acquired weapons that turned out to be useless during the war. Another speaker, MP Anna Grigoryan, assured the audience: “Artsakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. Every centimeter of Armenia is sacred land, and we will never give it up to the enemy.”

Politicians’ speeches were periodically interrupted by chanting of slogans such as “Nikol is a traitor”, “Armenia without Nikol”, “Artsakh, Artsakh!” and “Unity, struggle, victory!”.

“Nicol is scared, Nicol is gone”

Both those who spoke from the podium and ordinary participants in the rally made it clear: apart from the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan, there is no other way out of the current situation on the Karabakh settlement. “The negotiation process that Pashinyan is leading will lead to the surrender of Artsakh to Azerbaijan. It needs to be stopped,” said Narine, a resident of Yerevan, in an interview with Kommersant. “I came to the rally precisely for this purpose, since Artsakh is part of Azerbaijan, which means a new massacre of our people.”

The same opinion is shared by another supporter of the opposition, Gennady, a resident of the capital. “This power is supported by our enemies – Great Britain and Turkey – in the game against Russia. As a result, we were defeated,” he explained his position in an interview with Kommersant. “The only salvation is the removal of Nikol Pashinyan’s team from power.”

Narine and Gennady, as an alternative to Nikol Pashinyan, named the second president, Robert Kocharyan. “Kocharyan after the resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosyan (the first president of Armenia.— “B”) showed by his actions that it is possible to defend Artsakh,” Gennady assured, in particular.

When asked how he explains that it was during the reign of Mr. Ter-Petrosyan that Armenia won the war for Karabakh (1992–1994), the interlocutor of Kommersant, after a little thought, answered: “It was in spite of, not thanks to him.” This opinion is quite common among opposition supporters.

Mr. Kocharyan himself also took part in the rally – and was surrounded by everyone’s attention there. “People are cheering President Kocharyan one by one (some people have definitely felt bad now),” Agnessa Khamoyan, an MP from the “Armenia” faction, wrote on Facebook (owned by Meta, which is recognized as an extremist organization and banned in the Russian Federation), referring to Nikol Pashinyan .

At about 21:00 (one hour ahead of Moscow), the rally ended. According to the estimates of the NGO “Union of Informed Citizens”, about 12.5 thousand people took part in the Sunday action.

Some oppositionists stayed overnight in tents on France Square. Barbecues were placed in front of the tents, in which fires were kindled – to keep warm during the night. Some other methods turned out to be inaccessible to activists. According to Sputnik Armenia, MP Aram Vardevanyan warned those who decided to spend the night that alcohol is strictly prohibited in the new tented camp.

From early Monday morning, the oppositionists promise to proceed to the next stage – to begin blocking the streets in Yerevan and other cities of Armenia.

In addition, Ishkhan Saghatelyan called on all citizens of the country to join the strikes, as well as hold pickets in their yards. They are also waiting for decisive action from Nikol Pashinyan’s current associates. “I again appeal to those party members who have no blood on their hands and are not traitors. If you don’t want to be like that, then you must join the people,” Mr. Saghatelyan said at the rally.

As the first foreign minister of Armenia after gaining independence, Raffi Hovhannisyan, who also participated in the May Day rally, told Kommersant, “after the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan, it will be necessary to form an interim government of technocrats who will work hard to solve the problems that have arisen before the country.” “After that, early parliamentary elections should be held in the country, the purpose of which is to form a government of national accord to consolidate the nation,” he added.

Some participants of the action believe that, in fact, there are no alternatives to such a scenario. “Nikol is frightened, Nikol is no longer there,” said Hayk Mamijanyan, a deputy from the “I have the Honor” faction, in a speech on France Square, drawing attention to the number of law enforcement officers present there. However, we are still talking about a big exaggeration on the part of the oppositionist. There are still many doubts that Nikol Pashinyan’s opponents will have enough strength to repeat his path using the methods of 2018.

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