Unrest in Armenia: thousands rally at three separate protests in Yerevan
Despite the heavy snow, March 1 is shaping out to be a very heated day in Yerevan, as three rallies are scheduled for today in Armenia.
The first one is arranged by the former president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and his Armenian National Congress party.
The rally will commemorate the ten demonstrators and policemen who died during the street confrontation on March 1, 2008, when the opposition challenged the results of the presidential elections.
Since the Velvet Revolution and Nikol Pashinyan coming to power in 2018, the controversy around this case has intensified dramatically, as even the ex-President Robert Kocharian was brought to trial.
At 18:00, a protest and march began, organised by the country’s opposition bloc, which, to this day, refuses to leave the streets and stays in the tents outside of the Parliament building, demanding PM Pashinyan to resign. Finally, a protest and a march arranged by the PM Pashinyan himself is planned for 18:00, and Prime Minister Pashinyan has already promised to deliver a speech then.
As the political crisis in Armenia continues, heated discussions around it take over the local expert and blogger communities. Below, we will have a look at some of those.
- Moscow bites back after Armenian PM claims Russia’s Iskander missiles ‘don’t explode’
- Armenian armed forces demand PM’s resignation
- On the brink of civil war? Armenian political crisis continues
- Were Iskander missiles even used in Karabakh war? Opinions from Baku
Highlights of the political crisis in Armenia
The political crisis in Armenia began immediately after the signing of a trilateral Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement in the fall of 2020, when Armenia’s opposition bloc along with thousands of people demanded the immediate resignation of PM Pashinyan who signed an “unfavorable” peace treaty.
On February 25, 2021, the leadership of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces demanded the resignation of Nikol Pashinyan. In turn, Pashinyan called the statement of the General Staff an “attempted military coup” and began the procedure of the dismissal of the chief of General Staff. President Armen Sargsyan did not sign a decree on the dismissal of the chief of the General Staff, but the prime minister has already asked him once again to reconsider this decision.
The Security Council of Armenia issued a statement condemning the attempts to involve the army in political processes and urged President Sargsyan to sign a decree on the removal of the head of the General Staff from the office.
During the rallies of both the opposition and the prime minister’s supporters, this issue will also be addressed.
In addition, Armenia is still discussing Nikol Pashinyan’s statement on the Russian Iskander missiles which, allegedly, failed to explode when used during the Karabakh war. Moscow responded harshly and accused the Armenian PM of spreading lies. Pashinyan’s comment on the efficiency of the Iskander missiles has also led to the dismissal of the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces and led to a joint statement issued by the leadership of the General Staff the very next day.
Pashinyan’s press secretary has already released another statement which explains that the prime minister discussed his comment on the efficiency of Iskander missiles in a phone call with the Russian president:
“Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, was misinformed about the effectiveness of the Russian Iskander missile systems. The Prime Minister’s statement has nothing to do with the content and quality of the Armenian-Russian allied relations in the field of military and military-industrial cooperation”, Mane Gevorgyan said.
Experts’ and bloggers’ reaction
“What should those who are yet to make up their mind do?”
“The polarization of society is reaching its peak. Despite resistance, the authorities, betraying state and national interests, continue to implement their policies. However, one can observe how the point of view based on equidistance from the “new” and “old” (I am against the current government, but I do not want the former government to return either) began to spread. This is a serious problem that everyone needs to pay attention to. […]
What should those who still have a choice do? […] Those who do not want to see the current government and do not really favor the previous ones either should make up their mind. Otherwise, their neutrality will help the current government to strengthen and finally end the project entitled “Armenian Statehood”, Sergey Melkonyan believes.
“The main priority now is for the army to act as the foundation for the statehood”
“So far, we can witness the return of politics to Armenia, and here is what I believe to be truly important at the moment – will the General Staff be able to distance itself from the 17+ [opposition parties united in the struggle for the resignation of PM Pashinyan] … or will it not be able to do so?
I hope the army will act as the cornerstone of the Armenian statehood. If both sides are unable to think and act as institutions, we will move on to the next, deeper stage of the state crisis”, says Hrachya Arzumanyan.
“Military cooperation with Russia is a sign of Armenia’s refusal to modernize”
“Moscow has threatened Armenia with a new war, should it attempt to change its defense policies. This is really a matter of life and death for Russians (here is the “alignment of interests of Russians and Armenians”).
If our army is “reformed in cooperation with Russia” while the possibility of military cooperation with NATO and other countries is completely ignored, we will be faced with the deprivation of the possibility of technological modernization, and all while the Turkish army is constantly developing, modernizing and evolving. In the meantime, Russians have already managed to aggravate the internal crisis in Armenia, especially since the government is incompetent and the 17+ lack any clear agenda”, Lragir.am explains.