Translated by Ollie Richardson
The events in Yerevan, where mass riots and disorder has been ongoing for several days, develops quickly. Yesterday supporters of the opposition, protesting against the appointment of the former president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan to the Prime Minister’s post, surrounded buildings of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the State Revenue Committee. At the entrance to each building there were 10-15 people, blocking the doors. However, this didn’t disturb parliamentarians — they voted for the candidacy of Sargsyan, who was elected for a third term.
During all of Monday (April 16th) and Tuesday (April 17th) in the capital of Armenia the protests only grew. The central city streets were paralysed by protesters, and they tried to block the parliament. Protesters spent the night in tents in order to not allow deputies in parliament. The police attempted to unblock roads by force. Fights with protesters began. As a result of mass skirmishes 46 people were injured and 6 police officers were wounded. At the same time the number of detainees already reached close to 100. Thus, the number of protesters according to different estimates reached about 10,000 people.
The leader of the oppositional movement Nikol Pashinyan declared a “revolutionary situation” in the republic. “Throughout the entire republic there have been protest actions, strikes, streets are blocked. In Armenia a revolutionary situation was established. I declare the beginning of a ‘velvet revolution’ here and now,” said Pashinyan, speaking on French square in the center of Yerevan.
According to him, all law enforcement structures were assembled at the parliament building. “They wait for us. But we will do something else. Now we will organise a procession and we will paralyse the work of other governmental buildings. Wherever we will be able to enter, we will organise sit-ins,” stated Pashinyan. Thus he emphasised that the participants of the action must exclude acts of violence.
BARRICADES FROM BENCHES
There is a lot in common between the Ukrainian Maidan and the events that are now unfolding in Armenia. On Monday Sargsyan’s opponents built barricades in the city center — they pulled together benches and trash cans on streets and built barricades. Also, some supporters of the opposition used trucks, and with their help traffic was almost blocked.
In Kiev in the city center all benches and trash cans also formed the basis of barricades. It is due to such actions that six main streets in the city center were blocked.
Another “similarity” was published by the website “Gnews Armenia”, which uploaded a video showing unknown persons attacking students. “The police of Armenia observe how unknown people beat peaceful students protesters,” it is said in the video description.
In Ukraine Maidan began on November 21st, 2013, then it was generally supported by students who were spending the night on Maidan. But on the night of November 30th security officers made an attempt to “clean up”, as a result of which dozens of people and journalists were injured. The beating of students also served as the start of mass protest actions.
The residents of Yerevan say that taxi drivers didn’t take money from protesters who came to the city center. In particular, this also concerned the leader of the opposition Nikol Pashinyan. “He got a graze near his ear. He came back from the hospital, the taxi driver didn’t take money from him nor journalists,” wrote one of the participants of the action Armen Hayrapetyan on social networks.
Ukrainian taxi drivers also didn’t stay away from the events on Maidan, many of them didn’t take money from activists who went to the city center. The first such mass case was recorded on the night of December 11th, 2013, then in Kiev security officers tried to storm the barricades for the first time.
PROVOKERS IN AFFAIRS
On April 17th provokers who threw stones and different objects towards police officers appeared in the crowd of protesters. Thus the leader of the opposition Pashinyan during speeches repeatedly called for peaceful rallies. He also assured that all dissenters will be expelled from their ranks. For example, if they say bad things about law enforcement bodies.
A similar thing happened in Kiev on December 1st, when on Bankova Street radical activists swung chains and threw stun grenades at cordons of security officers. Leaders of the opposition said that they were provokers and called to hand them over to the police.
On April 17th participants of the rally resorted to new types of protest — they went into buildings in the city center. According to the idea of oppositionists, the activists stand near closed doors and as soon as they open they try to come into the buildings, start a sit-in, and nobody is let out.
The first buildings in Kiev were occupied by protesters at the beginning of December – the city hall, and already a month later all main State premises became the main outposts of protesters. Among them there were the Ukrainian house, October palace, buildings of Ministry of Justice on Gorodetsky Street, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy on the Khreshchatyk, and others.
“IN ARMENIA MUCH IS DECIDED BY MOSCOW”
The leading expert of the National Institute for International Security Problems at the National Security and Defense Council Boris Parakhonsky explained that the events in Armenia won’t end in a Maidan. “They have the Karabakh situation (the conflict with Azerbaijan in the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh), which hinders any progress towards peace and the West. Also there are bases with Russian troops. That’s why everything in Armenia now depends on whether or not Moscow will allow it. And it is doing everything to prevent changes,” said Parakhonsky.
The political scientist Pavel Rudyakov gave a more radical forecast. He believes that the appointment of the Prime Minister Sargsyan is the only reason for the protests. “The events that are going on can develop into another Color Revolution. But what resulted from such revolutions in other countries won’t happen here. I think that, unlike in these examples, a cardinal change of power in Armenia is impossible. Armenia is not Ukraine, and the conditions there are different,” said Rudyakov.
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