Hovannisian Supporters Scuffle with Police in Yerevan

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Inauguration day in Armenia on April 9 culminated in clashes with police just blocks from the Presidential Palace.

Thousands of supporters of Raffi Hovannisian—the opposition challenger who claimed victory in the presidential elections—followed him en masse into the streets after his evening rally at Freedom Square, where he announced he will be heading to the presidential headquarters.

Photo from today's protests by Serouj Aprahamian, The Armenian Weekly.
Photos from today’s protests by Serouj Aprahamian, The Armenian Weekly.

“Together, hand in hand, we are going to Baghramyan 26 [the presidential palace] which belongs to us,” announced Hovannisian at Freedom Square.

Those attending the rally flooded the streets of Yerevan, where they shut down traffic and stood head to head with riot police who blocked the main thoroughfare leading to the President’s residence.

Intermittent clashes ensued as the police stood in a line blocking the procession from moving beyond the corner of Baghramyan and Isahakyan streets. After several minutes of negotiations, Hovannisian, together with the head of police, began walking in the opposite direction toward the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Dzidzernagapert. There, he held a candlelight vigil and prayed for a new Armenia.

Meanwhile a large segment of the protestors remained behind in a standoff with the police, refusing to change their intended destination: the presidential palace. Despite repeated warnings to disperse, much of the crowd stood their ground into the late evening.

Photo from today's protests by Serouj Aprahamian, The Armenian Weekly.
Photos from today’s protests by Serouj Aprahamian, The Armenian Weekly.

Hovannisian returned to the standoff hours later, negotiating with police once more, and was eventually allowed to lead the remaining protestors toward the presidential palace in a peaceful march.

“While I am still here, nobody should take unilateral steps,” Hovannisian told the crowd. “We are going to move forward together peacefully. Anyone who does not do so is a saboteur.”

The tense confrontation followed a daylong string of actions protesting the presidential inauguration of Serge Sarkisian, who was officially sworn into his second term.

In his earlier “alternative” inauguration gathering in Freedom Square, Hovannisian struck a much more reserved tone, as he labeled Sarkisian’s reelection illegitimate and invited the crowd to another rally on April 12 to discuss future steps geared toward challenging the Yerevan municipal elections in May.

Photo from today's protests by Serouj Aprahamian, The Armenian Weekly.
Photo from today’s protests by Serouj Aprahamian, The Armenian Weekly.

Chants of “Now! Now!” could be heard among the visibly disgruntled crowd that called for a swift and immediate challenge to the presidential election they deemed fraudulent.

This disappointment expressed by the crowd at noon was most likely the motivating factor behind the much bolder, unexpected march, and standoff initiated by Hovannisian during the evening rally.

The Armenian Weekly correspondent in Yerevan filed this report and the accompanying photos.


Serouj Aprahamian

Serouj Aprahamian has always been actively involved in the Armenian community. From 2007-2009, he served as the Capital Gateway Program Director for the Armenian National Committee of America in DC, while obtaining a Master's in International Relations from American University. He also served for three years as the Executive Director of the AYF Western Region and has contributed regularly to the Armenian Weekly, Haytoug, and Asbarez. He is currently a correspondent of the Armenian Weekly in Yerevan.


    • You got it Hagop:

      [Protesters in Armenia refuse to follow opposition leaders]

      {Postanjyan stressed in her speech that clashes with the police at this time are not appropriate, however, her call to leave Baghramyan Avenue and to return to the Liberty Square and to wait for opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian there was booed by the participants of protest action.}

      you can clearly see protesters throwing things at police.
      Scroll down to 2nd picture: you can see the police and another guy ducking, because things are being thrown at police.

      Also read this:
      [Why did Raffi Hovannisian leave some supporters on Yerevan’s Baghramyan Avenue?]

      Basically an unruly group of 1,000-2,000 troublemakers did not listen to their supposed leaders and stayed behind to provoke the police into attacking them and becoming ‘martyrs’ for the Barevacause: didn’t work. Police maintained control. Great job.
      Barevarevolutionaries were given a lot of leeway. Armenian police showed remarkable restraint.
      The protesters were illegally blocking a major thoroughfare and were attempting to force their way down to the official Presidential residence.
      No civilized law & order country would allow that.
      In the US the cops would come at you with clubs swinging, pepper spray anyone standing in their way, and arrest hundreds for disorderly conduct, illegal assembly, failure to disperse, resisting arrest, assault and battery on a police officer: all felonies. And the courts would back them up.
      (research how Occupy Wall Street protesters were brutalized in most US cities)

      Expecting a comment by chaos cheerleader Hagop any minute now….

  1. Yes! The revolution starts. Change through crisis.

    People forget that this is exactly how the 1988 revolution succeeded, despite all the naysayers. Paralyzing the government, until the only outcome is change to a new Armenia.

  2. Shame on You Hovannisian! Shame on you Sarkisian! Shame on you Armenians! You are dividing our nation in a time when unity is essential, you are jeopardizing our independence, Shame on you ARF in Armenia for taking a side and not being the peace maker! This is the Armenian “Spring” I warned you all for the past two years. :( Shame on you all! Hovannisian must be investigated! His international communications must be checked! I think he is being moved by a Western power… President Sarkisian, yes I say president, I didn’t forget how much I was against him during the shameful “Protocol” days. it is time for you to make some positive changes in your government… My dear Armenian brothers and sisters, big powers, Western governments don’t care if you have freedom or not, they don’t care about your well being, be careful, don’t be a tool in their hands! Take a lead! Unite your country! Your enemy is watching. :(

  3. Even though Mr. Hovanissian is a great patriot, but for idealistic people like him, with less familiarity with the culture of the former Soviet Armenia, it will be very hard to him to achieve anything.
    Unfortunately, it’s late he lost a great opportunity after election and now he is wasting his and Armenian people’s time, by dividing them ?
    Dr. Babajanian

  4. Good for you Hovanissian. This government is useless. After 20 years of independence the country has to import milk and almost all other food stuffs. The government backs the Oligarchs who monopolize imports. Resulting in zero jobs. This is a start. The government of Armenia is an Illegitimate the people of Armenia and the government should be reminded of this all the time and at every opportunity. Shame on the Armenian church for blessing the swearing in, they should have boycotted.

  5. The fiasco led by Hovannissian and co. is finished… a bunch of sore losers… Power to our President elect, Sarkissian, wish him prosperity, strength and perseverance. He has definitely put Armenia on the right track!

  6. I like the very cautious spanish saying¨todos tenemos razon¨..
    That is -more or less-We all of reazon,meaning all of us here have said things that may be partially or wholley right.
    But core of the issue again isGIVE ANDS STAY OUT…

  7. Isn’t it bizarre Barevarevolutionaries complaining about lack of jobs in RoA, while doing everything they can to scare away revenue producing foreign tourists and potential investors.

    Very smart.

    I am sure Mr. Hovannisian will now invest hundreds of US$ millions to make up the losses his actions have caused in potential revenue from tourism and foreign investors having second thoughts: who wants to do business or visit a city where there are endless protests.

    • The US ambassadors recent cables to the state department stated that one of the main obstacles to more foreign investment in Armenia is because of the corrupt/bribe system.

  8. Lus

    You are right to wish prosperity to our President, but please don´t forget to include his friends in your wishes. They partly are poor owners of just one Maibach or Rolls Royce !
    Which track do you speak of ? The one that leads to an empty and
    unpopulated country ?

  9. Bravo Courageous SILVA
    When politically all Armenian become mature like you, we will succeed.
    As Charents wished
    We need Unity. And only Unity can save our tumbledown independence.

  10. I agree with Silva. We need peacemakers who fight for equality and rule of law. The last thing we need is division or accusations of sabotage and collaboration. It is time for all sides to come together and tackle the economic and emigration woes of the nation. Our enemies are drooling as they celebrate our discontent and division.

  11. No Unity in no nation.Please understand that is a wrong approach.Wrong wording.WE NEED TO COOPERATE.M I A P A N I L ….
    my elft leaning friend will in no way give in to my right leaning one..Capiche???
    Same in any advanced Demcracy.Take France…they have left ,far left they have right wing far right wing political parties and people following them adhered to them in their filed and ranks and/or sympathizers.
    But they all become ONE FIST, cooperate when facing int´l issues..hasgcoghin Barev,
    p.s. that word was intentionally injected into the Armenian fabirc in order to DO EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE by Turkish agdents amongst jus-Armenian speeaking-do you foillow. like this:
    Armenians will never unite, armenians lack UNITY….follow what am saying and thus create confusion amongst Armenians and make thme beleive that this is TRUE. We are not ..united
    Wherreas after the Civil War in lebanon All armenian political parties cooperated MIAPANVECAN capicje????we are mature enough to grasp that NOW!!!! A COMMY WILL ALWAYS THINK THAT WAS WISE,A taSHANG IS SWORN TO BE A NATIONALIST SO IS THEOTHER ETC.,E TC., we HAVE TO PROPAGATE cooperation miapanutyuunAND NOT BELIEVE WHAT TURKS HAVE SOWED AMOGNST US…hIUMBUG!!!!!

    • Gayzag, “cooperate” is translated “hamagortsaksel.” “Miapanil” still means “unite.” I agree with you, the word “unity” has been overused, abused, and tortured by some of our leaders. It is the word of the dictators, ultra-nationalists, and the short-sighted people.

  12. I disagree with Silva and Bojajian. First, the only one to blame for the situation is Serzh and his regime. No need to shame the Armenian people or the opposition. There is nothing wrong with the Armenian people. We are a great people. What is wrong is the Armenian government, which needs to be changed. The Armenian government, just like any government is responsible for the safety of the country. The people gave that job to the government, so if something goes wrong, if there are protests, clashes and victims, that means the government failed to do something. One cannot hold the people responsible because one cannot control the people: people will do whatever they feel they need to do. It is much easier to hold the government responsible, because it is their job to create an environment where people do not feel like protesting every day. And it is much easier to change the government than the entire people.

    Whether Raffi goes against the government or not, it does not matter, because tomorrow someone else will lead the people against the government. The message that the government needs to get is that unless they make Armenia a democracy, there will be a revolution regardless of who is the leader. It’s only a matter of time.

    Second, we should not be concerned that our enemies are drooling. We should focus on making Armenia democratic, without which the enemies of Armenia will destroy the country. By suppressing diversity of ideas and the momentum of democratic change in the name of not making our enemies happy, we are doing more damage to Armenia. Take the example of the USA. In 1980’s, during the most intense era of the Cold War, when the USA was involved in a life-and-death confrontation with the Soviet Union, President Raegan’s own daughter kept publicly protesting against her father. I am sure that made the Soviets quite happy. Yet, Americans did not give up their freedom to protest in the name of not making the enemy happy, because they knew that that would make greater damage than preventing the Soviets from drooling. In the end, the Soviets were the ones who lost.

    Or take our own history: during the revolution of 1988, there were similar calls to stop the popular uprising in the name of “unity” and “not making our enemies happy.” Most notably Catholicos Vazgen I made such a speech. Thankfully, the people ignored those calls and changed the regime, without which Armenian victory against Azerbaijan would be impossible.

    Third, we should not focus on being “united.” That is a futile call. Instead, we should focus on bringing democratic change to Armenia. That is the salvation for Armenia. And until then, instead of wasting time and effort on making futile calls to be “united,” we should instead encourage free exchange and diversity of ideas, because that is the only way to come up with best ideas, and best ideas is what moves a country forward, not empty calls for “unity.” Throughout our history, there have been constant calls for “unity,” without any effect (most of the time). That means that it does not work, and we need to change how we tackle our problems – not through calls for “unity,” but through free exchange of ideas and change. People will naturally unite when they feel the need (e.g. Sardarapat, the 1988 revolution), and they will unite when they see good ideas and good leaders.

    Usually, “unity” is what dictatorships urge, because they need the people to be “united” in their inaction and will leave the regime alone. Same is true with Serzh and his supporters. Calls for “unity” are meant to suppress the free expression of ideas and weaken the momentum for change. If anything, the people should be united *against* the regime, because the goal is to change the corrupt system in Armenia.

    I often tend to draw examples from the history of the United States (with good reason, since it’s the most powerful and longest-lasting democracy). The framers of the U.S. constitution (not Washington, but those who actually designed the system) realized that you cannot erase divisions – they are inherent in the human nature. So they created a system that actually embraces and uses the natural divisions for the benefit of the nation. That is what we need, instead of suppressing our diversity, we need to use it to bring change to Armenia.

    How does it translate to the current situation in Armenia? Instead of trying to “unify” all Armenians (which is impossible in any human society) or even the entire opposition, those who are committed to changing the government should unite among themselves and against the government. They should freely express their discontent with Raffi or the ARF or the other leaders who may be failing to communicate with the people. And if the democratic movement needs to proceed with different leaders and without Raffi, then so be it. If the movement is able to present good ideas (which is only possible if there is a free exchange of ideas), then people will naturally unite around the movement, whether the ARF or the other parties join them. Remember that the 1988 revolution happened without the traditional Armenian parties (the ARF, Hunchaks etc.), which were actually calling for “restraint” and “unity.” Good thing the people did not listen to them.

    • Based upon your comments over the course of the last 2 months I have come to the conclusion that you agitating for Armenia’s division and eventual destruction.

    • Indeed: what ‘Armenian’ calls our indigenous heroic brothers and sisters of Artsakh, quote, “separatists”, a term commonly used by AxeriTatarTurk foreign invaders to denigrate and delegitimize the native owners of the historic Armenian lands.

    • Well, AR, your conclusions are wrong, and they clearly reflect an extremely narrow and simple mind, which of course is damaging for Armenians.
      I am not agitating for Armenia’s division and destruction, I want Armenia to be a strong and prosperous state, because I know that Armenians are a great people and they deserve such a state, not the corrupt Russian colony that they currently have. And the way to have such a state is by becoming a democracy, as history shows. The way to get there is not by futile calls for “unity,” which is a typical slogan used by authoritarian regimes to suppress dissent. Sometimes unity is harmful–it leads to suppression of views and mistakes. Sometimes divisions are good–they result in free exchange of ideas and generation of new, useful ideas. Armenians are a smart people, they know when there is a need to unite, and when there is need to deviate from the official dogmas.
      Ironically, AR, you and other pseudo-“patriots” actually harm Armenians by being self-haters who hold very low regard for our people. As I have stated elsewhere, you have called Armenians “self destructive peasants” who are somehow genetically contaminated by “Asiatic traits” and who are incapable of mature political thoughts. Let’s read a few of your quotes again:
      quote by AR: “Too much of our society has become self-destructive peasants in thoughts and deeds” http://armenianweekly.com/2012/10/01/political-persecution-in-armenia-against-former-foreign-minister-oskanian/
      quote by AR (from the same page): “when Armenians can rid themselves of the Asiatic traits imposed and adopted by us in the past 600 years, then we will see many positive changes take”
      another quote by AR: “Armenians may be good at many things, but sober political analysis is not one of them.” http://armenianweekly.com/2013/03/23/why-the-diaspora-should-join-armenias-barevolution/
      And let’s read Avery’s self-hating quote once again, which calls our Genocide victims “sheep” and blames them for the Genocide: quote by Avery: “no wonder we were slaughtered like sheep by Turks. Turks glorify their military, while we glorify our spoiled brats.” http://armenianweekly.com/2013/02/23/a-story-of-defiance-activists-reject-international-observers-assessment-of-election/
      Armenians do not need such self-haters who pretend to be “patriots” but instead keep our people down.

  13. Thanks Vahagn,
    For putting in better phraseology what I posted above yours.
    Fact is I have been advocating to that effect since a fdw yrs right here on this Forum.Mostly quoting or briniung as example the nature of the French people.that they have diverse political parties in constant FRICTION W ITH EA OTHER,but they become ONE FIST WHEN A NATIONL ISSUE IS AT STAKE.What is more there are able poepl amongst all politically oriented people and /or none so.We must adhere to that System.Armenia needs to have A HARMONIOUS CIVIL SOCIETY.I call that in Armenian(my invented word) UNGERAYNUTIUN.would translate as SOCIETIZATION. this btw in my agenda or BOOK IS CREATION OF AND THROUGH professional colleageues associations. nOT A POLITICAL PARTY BUT PEOPLE IN IT MAY INDEED MAINTAIN dual membership..BE A PARTISAN BUT IN THAT sOCIETY aSSOCIATION STICK TO THE OBJECTIVES THAT i OUTLINE THERE. TO bRING ABOUT THE one hiundred thousand strong membedrs of the PCA´s and then draw on their delegates.Elected no not by money spending or political campaigns but FOR THEIR M E R I T S …
    There are oNLY 3 MERITS A IN APERSON,if you give me the fourth I promnise to send you a small check of $50.-
    One, in his her profession, say a pyhsician.(we ahve that Association BTW, the Health Medical one of the 5 on the scene9.This Doctor , the lst one most advanced in his/her prof. 2nd one culturally,nat´l and Int´l and with networking capacity.3rd one fiancially most advanced8becazsue opend his own cabient besides working a hospital as an eample or knew where to invest his saving,so thsi 3rd one Economwise savvy..
    These 3 togehter with 3 of all 15 fields of prof. will for, the Inter professional Grouping(Groupement,I was one of the near founders in paris os same) then will admit 3 delegates from our traditional political parties into the Central Council of ea Armenian dense township, also one ea from ojur 3 denomination Clergy,Thus FORMING BY REAL PAPRTICIPATION A REPRESENTATION .Elected for their worth their Merits…
    I shall go now to an armenian gathering which has unfortunately split into 2…see what can be done with good people to mend it…
    Oh these armenians.!!!!!!

  14. Vahagn, buddy boy:

    Regarding: {And let’s read Avery’s self-hating quote once again, which calls our Genocide victims “sheep” and blames them for the Genocide: quote by Avery: “no wonder we were slaughtered like sheep by Turks. Turks glorify their military, while we glorify our spoiled brats.”}

    This was answered adequately in the original thread, but for some reason AW did not publish it; maybe got lost during the software change.
    Here it is again:
    Regarding the ‘brat’:

    This is what I wrote, in part;
    {Yep, a young woman is a ‘hero’ for disrupting a meeting.
    How many of the sore losers actually said anything about a real HERO, a young man who will never have the opportunity to see another sunrise or another sunset, or have the opportunity to disrupt a meeting and become a fake ‘hero’. Daron is right: no wonder we were slaughtered like sheep by Turks.
    Turks glorify their military, while we glorify our spoiled brats.
    [Killed Armenian soldier had returned from Russia to offer his military duty]
    (Gor Ghazaryan, 19: RIP and eternal glory, little brother)

    Not what you manufactured and ascribed to me: { “Armenians were slaughtered like sheep because they worship their brats”}
    If you are going to quote me, quote accurately and fully: don’t manufacture new sentences from bits and pieces.
    And you do need to understand the difference between “glorify” and “worship”.
    Regarding the ‘sheep’:
    {“ Your “sheep” comment is just one example of your self-hating low regard for the average Armenian person.”} (Vahagn)
    {“ Not only you basically called our Genocide victims “sheep,” you blamed them for the Genocide”} (Vahagn)

    I am sure Mr. Harut Sassounian also has self-hating low regard for the average Armenian person. Not.
    I am sure Mr. Harut Sassounian also called AG victims “sheep” and blamed them for the Genocide. Not.

    Here, go educate yourself some more, Mr. Habergate:
    [Is Turkey’s Consul Unhappy that not All Armenians were Slaughtered like Sheep?](Friday, May 7th, 2010 Posted by Harut Sassounian)
    Allow me to emphasize the relevant passage (not from the Bible, btw, homes):
    [# I am very proud of grandma Gadar, because at a time when more than a million Armenians were being marched to their deaths by the genocidal rulers of Tekin’s ancestors, she and her fellow Zeitountsis — men, women and children — defended themselves valiantly and refused to be slaughtered like sheep #]

    Eternal glory to Grandma Gadar and her fellow Zeitountsis.
    And we are still waiting for you to produce another ‘Armenian’ who has called our Artsakhtsi brother and sisters “separatists”, a term used by AxeriTatarTurk invaders and their Turcophile agents, and also explain you calling patriotic Armenians Sargsyan and Kocharyan, quote, “Azerbaijani citizens”.

  15. Vahagn, buddy boy:

    Here is another supposedly self-hating Armenian, who supposedly calls our Genocide victims “sheep” and blames them for the Genocide:
    [Today, with the entire fatherland bathed in blood and all the Armenian survivors in mourning, we were lamenting the myriad victims slaughtered like a million sheep and we knew that even blacker days awaited us. Yes, black days when we would be longing for all black days past…because the closer we drew to the summit, the thornier became the Armenian Golgotha]

    Page 178.

    Armenian Golgotha
    By Father Grigoris Balakian
    You do know who Father Grigoris Balakian is, Yes ?
    Apparently in your worldview Father Grigoris Balakian and Mr. Harut Sassounian are supposedly “self-hating” Armenians for supposedly calling our AG victims “sheep”, but someone posting under an Armenian name calling our heroic Artsakhtsi brothers and sisters “separatists” and writing that Serj Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan are “Azerbaijani citizens” – is what ?

    • Avery, buddy body, what is the matter with the sudden spike of hysteria. Feeling sore after being debunked so many times? Aching for more? Neither Balakian nor Sassounian used the word “sheep” to accuse the Genocide victims for the Genocide. You did, and that kind of self-hatred that offends the very memory of our victims. Neither of these authors said anything like this (quote by Avery): “no wonder we were slaughtered like sheep by Turks. Turks glorify their military, while we glorify our spoiled brats.”
      An Armenian who states that NKR is a separatist entity states the reality. Anyone who denies it attempts to cover-up the real culprits of that reality–the failed policies of Kocharian and Serzh, due to which NKR is not even a party to the negotiations. “heroic” and “separatist” have nothing to do with each other, conflating the two means engaging in a bolshevik-style rhetoric.
      Many Armenians have called Serzh and Robert “Turks” and other names that I cannot reproduce here. “Azerbaijani citizens” is a compliment compared to them. And many have called Karabaghtsis far worse names than “separatists.” While their feeling may be irrational, it is a result of the damage that Robert and Serzh and their clan have done to Armenia. If you do not know this, you are clearly ignorant of your own people.

  16. Vahagn,
    Miapanil means Miasin panil work together cooperate.No need to use UNITY.You-I,m afraid did not get the message I wished to convey.In short people can have different viewpoints have adherence to different political ideologies , but the C O WORK CO OPERATE WHEN NATIONAL KISSUES AT SSTAKE.UNITY , MIASNUTYUN WISHES TO DOWNGRADE THE IDEOLOGIES-ORIENTED GUYS AMONST US OR ANY NATION,WHICH WILL NOT PLEASE THEM..

    • watch the video carefully: he was behind the police lines attacking and kicking the cops: you kick and attack the cops, you will get a bloody nose.
      He is lucky he didn’t hit a cop in the US.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.