Unwelcome Guest, Undesired Host: A Street Perspective of Putin’s Armenia Visit

YEREVAN (A.W)—On Dec. 2, 1920, Armenian Foreign Minister Alexandre Khatisian signed the Alexandropol Treaty between the First Republic of Armenia and Turkey. Pro-Soviet forces took control of Armenia’s government, and the country was declared a Soviet state. Exactly 93 years later, on Dec. 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Armenia to welcome President Serge Sarkisian’s decision to join the Russian-led Custom’s Union, which many argue is an incarnation of the Russian imperialistic appetite and an attempt to create a Soviet Union 2.0.

Despite all odds stacked against Armenian civil society and strong pro-Russian and anti-European Union (EU) propaganda, a very diverse group of more than 1,000 citizens took to the streets of Yerevan to protest Putin’s visit, and the regime’s decision to join the Custom’s Union, and its failure to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) and Association Agreement with the EU.

Activists protested against Putin, and the regime’s decision to join the Customs Union, and the failure to sign the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) and Association Agreement with the EU. (Photo by Samson Martirosyan)
Activists protested against Putin, and the regime’s decision to join the Custom’s Union. (Photo by Samson Martirosyan)

Early in the morning, prior to Putin’s arrival, large banners reading, “No to Customs Union Colonization” (Ո՛Չ ՄԱՔՍԱՅԻՆ ԳԱՂՈՒԹԱՑՄԱՆԸ), “Sovereign Republic of Armenia” (ԻՆՔՆԻՇԽԱՆ ՀՀ), and “Let’s get rid of the Sergiks” (ԱԶԱՏՎԵ՛ՆՔ ՍԵՐԺԻԿՆԵՐԻՑ) hung above the main streets of Yerevan. Police removed them almost immediately, and detained around six activists, who were released by noon.

While the activists were hanging banners, many others—suspected to be administrative staff of governmental institutions and Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) members—were shipped in on buses and handed Russian flags,  in order to greet Putin and participate in the opening ceremony of a monument that symbolizes Armenian-Russian friendship.

The main protest activity started at 1 p.m. at Freedom Square. I went to the venue earlier than planned as rumors had spread that the authorities were planning to close off a bigger part of Baghramyan Avenue near the Presidential Palace. Police numbers were overwhelming and the ratio of activists to policemen was approximately one to five. Policemen seemed more hostile than usual, more alert and determined.

Early on, a police car intervened, warning that the protest was not authorized by municipal authorities, and was thus illegal and had to be dispersed. Initially, it was planned that the protest would move from Freedom Square to the Presidential Palace via Northern Avenue and Amiryan Street. Protesters quickly began marching while chanting, “Putin, go home,” “We are the owners of our country,” and “Sergik, go away.”  Police blocked the march halfway through. The protesters reversed direction, but were again blocked off. The then protesters became trapped on Northern Avenue, with no way out. Eventually, after negotiating with the police, they were allowed to move once again. The protesters—numbering around 1,000—moved towards the government building, only to be blocked again.

Young men and women, mostly students, carried a large banner that read, “To the barricades.” Dozens of others held anti-Putin posters. Someone waived a huge anarchist flag. Others carried the Ukrainian and Armenian national flags tied together as a sign of solidarity with the recent Euromaidan events in Kiev. And finally, for the first time, there was the rainbow flag. All of these elements made this protest unique: Diverse backgrounds and sets of values (a bit unusual in Armenia) were represented here, united despite the absence of an organizing body.

The protesters took to Amiryan Street, and were again blocked by police, who started a crackdown. They detained every activist they managed to catch, and confiscated cameras. Simultaneously, a small skirmish took place between an ultra-nationalist group and those carrying the rainbow flag, although it didn’t result in major injuries and both sides avoided each other from then on. Later, after the protest ended, they too were detained.

In the meantime, those activists who separated from the main group to protest near the Presidential Palace on Baghramyan Avenue, where Putin was supposed to arrive, were arrested by the police.

Back downtown, as police began acting violently, protesters ran to another street to avoid being detained. Police announced that people had been warned that the march was unauthorized, and that they were now taking steps to detain them. Activists responded by chanting, “We are not slaves.”

Meanwhile in Gyumri—Armenia’s second largest city, where authorities had frantically prepared for Putin’s arrival—Putin announced during a joint Armenian-Russian forum that “As for the South Caucasus, Russia has no plans of ever leaving it.”  The decision to join the Custom’s Union “was a sovereign decision,” said Putin in the presence of his Armenian counterpart and the Armenian political leadership. After the forum, both presidents went to the Russian military base in Gyumri, then headed to Yerevan.

The main protest activity started at 1 p.m. at Freedom Square. I went to the venue earlier than planned as rumors had spread that the authorities were planning to close a bigger part of Baghramyan Avenue near the Presidential Administration building. (Photo by Samson Martirosyan)
The main protest activity started at 1 p.m. at Freedom Square. I went to the venue earlier than planned as rumors had spread that the authorities were planning to close a bigger part of Baghramyan Avenue near the Presidential Palace. (Photo by Samson Martirosyan)

A few hours later, protesters—whose numbers had drastically decreased due to the numerous detentions—were finally allowed to leave the street. Several of them attempted to cross over to Baghramyan Avenue, but were unsuccessful. I, too, tried to make my way to Baghramyan via the metro, but it turned out that “due to technical reasons” the metro did not stop at Baghramyan Avenue. By 6 p.m., the area near the Presidential Palace was closed. Almost all police departments available were dispatched there. Even parents were not allowed to pick up their kids from the school in that vicinity. It appeared as though there was a state of emergency rather than a visit by the president of a foreign country.

The outcome of the visit was an agreement that would sell the last 20 percent of shares belonging to the Armenian ArmRosGazprom Company to the Russian Gazprom Company, thus making Armenia even more dependent on Russia. Putin left later that night. His visit resulted in a record number of arrests: 110 in total.

There are several conclusions to be made after the events that happened in Armenia on Dec. 2.

Time is ticking. During his two terms as president, Serge Sarkisian’s legitimacy has been questioned by many in Armenia. The more time goes by, the stronger the dissent and anger of the Armenian population. This was not solely an anti-Putin protest, but also an anti-regime protest, which was led mostly by young people: the “independence generation.” The majority of those who took to the streets consider it their duty to stay and fight against impunity, injustice, and hypocrisy. They hope to eventually build and live in their desired country—an economically and politically independent state. They do not wish to flee the country, but boost a change instead. If things go on this way with Sarkisian pushing deeper “cooperation” with Putin, while at the same time ignoring the urgent problems of unemployment, emigration, poverty, and human rights, the situation might easily get out of hand. Putin’s Russia, which appears to be chipping away at Armenia’s sovereignty and independence, can be a solid reason to unite groups that would normally find very little in common.

The regime is afraid. The very fact that protests, civil disobedience, and other events aimed at expressing dissent are met with heavy and overwhelming police response is more proof that the language of brutal force, threats, and provocation is seen as the only effective way of silencing citizens. The police have lost credibility in the eyes of many. They are no longer perceived as guarantors of the security of citizens, but as a brute force employed by the regime. This was clear in the number of detentions.

Protesters are no longer alone. The protest attracted the attention of major news media, including EuroNews, Human Rights HouseGlobal PostBBC, and Reuters. The protests attracted more attention than Putin’s visit, an encouraging feat. Of course, such media coverage is connected to recent developments surrounding the Custom’s Union, especially the events in Ukraine. Still, it is the activists who benefited most from this. Now that Sarkisian has turned his back to the EU and the West in general while considering Russia as a main and high-priority partner and ally, it will be more difficult to safeguard his legitimacy in the international arena. The EU hopefully learned its lessons, namely, that trusting rulers with questionable legitimacy is not useful in the long term. It is possible that, moving forward, human rights violations and other pressing issues will get more attention from the EU. Civil society institutions will hopefully come to replace Sarkisian’s administration as a main partner of the EU.

The protesters—numbering around 1,000— moved towards the government building. (Photo by Samson Martirosyan)
The protesters—numbering around 1,000—moved towards the government building. (Photo by Samson Martirosyan)

The situation in Armenia can often be depressing, and while I am writing this report, there is another protest at Baghramyan 26, near the Presidential Palace. This one is against the new pension law, and again the police are there to face the protesters. But there is hope as long as there is a group of young, energetic citizens who, instead of taking the emigration route, choose to stay on our land and strive for a future we want and deserve. On Dec. 2, I saw hundreds of such people, hundreds who are not ready to sell their future, hundreds who are ready to struggle for this worthy cause.

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Samson Martirosyan

Samson Martirosyan is The Armenian Weekly's correspondent in Gyumri. He received his B.A. in international affairs from the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University in Yerevan. A resident of Gyumri, Martirosyan has interned at the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan and has volunteered his time with various organizations. He is currently a Board member of the European Youth Parliament of Armenia.

60 Comments

  1. What a misguided and non-patriotic demonstration. The only power who is willing and committed to protect Armenia against Azerbaijan and Turkey is Russia. What do we want to do give everything up to friends of Turkey?

    • sadly I have to agree with you, If my only choice was to either be sold to the Russians or so called NATO/EU/whatever,(not really European at all, much like the U.S. it is sold to multi national criminal organizations headed by the banks to loot both continents, and since they haven’t been able to infiltrate Russia as much as they would have liked, Russia is deemed as the big evil bear, actually one is no better than the other, and since neutrality is not an option no matter what direction our country takes it is going to become a loser…
      the ideal option would be to be a member of a United Federal Europe that also includes Russia, all nations states while maintaining their national identities would form a coalition, open borders, single trans-continental defense force (commanded equally regardless of the state size and population), single currency and a NEWLY invented common European language (non-imperialistic, representing ALL the existing European languages equally, blended and harmonized, along side each states’ existing respective languages, only then their would a chance of peace and stability across the Eurasian continent

  2. Several hundred psychologically challenged individuals led by a bunch of Western funded NGO employees and Western operatives like Zaruhi Bostanjian and Paruyr Hayrikian does not constituent a major protest. The sad part is that if weren’t for Putin’s Russia all these “patriots” would be running for their lives once Turks come knocking on the door. The day Russia pulls its hands off of Armenia, the very next day the Turkish and Azeri army will be parading in Yerevan on the very same street these “patriots” are protesting Russia.

    PS: For a people that obsesses over the genocide recognition thing, where is your coverage of the tribune paid to the memory of Armenian genocide victims by the most powerful man in the world? Can you image the intensity of the orgasm you all would be collectively having if Obama did the same?

    PS: Had it not been for the date of December 2, 1920, Samson Martisoyan today would be called Samson Mustafaoglu and he would be making a living in eastern Turkey by herding goats.

  3. We don’t have to agree with all that these protesters and the groups participating in protest action say, but the fact that so many young people are ready to stay and resist the unchallenged rule of oligarches instead of choosing the easier way of emigration is a heart-warming sign.

  4. If only these young and energetic people studied history a tid bit more and did a whole lot more of independent analysis of what’s happening geopolitically and possible development routes instead of being swayed by numerous destabilizing influences in Armenia, it’d be at least promising (since there are no guarantees in life). Reading this article makes me awfully sad for my generation’s remarkable readiness to go protest something, anything really it seems and no tolerance for thinking for themselves and truly learning and doing instead of a lot of cheap chatter and PR earning points either in front of their grant providers (via civilnet’s always prompt reporting) or putting their “protest” highlights on their resumes when applying to Western colleges. A lot of these young and energetic people I think should spend time in the Armenian army, learning real skills and mental and physical stamina for defending their own borders, learning to respect rules and order and cultivate unity that Armenians just can’t seem to wrap their heads around and here we are trying to build a strong country. Yelling at a street corner doesn’t build a country. Refusing to deal with objective reality doesn’t build a country. Serving in the army (i’d make it mandatory for girls too) might just help get through that tempting period of young people’s lives when they feel like they clearly know everything and need to deliver the invaluable life experience they got on the streets of the capital while other young and energetic “journalists” make a report out of it. It’s seriously become unbearable to go to various Armenian news clips, because every day it’s either cheap “Opposition” hysteria or it’s the same activists (just in different outfits sometimes) protesting something as if there’s nothing else they can occupy their time with like work, studying, spending time with their loved ones at least – no no, they prefer to hang out on the streets wasting time and government resources for the sheer entertainment of their “friendly” foreign neighbors. I know many of the activists are paid to do what they do (it’s a pretty simple math really – no regular citizen can afford to be on the streets of Yerevan every or every other day protesting, at some point they may have to actually go to work to make a living), which is obviously awful, but what’s even more awful is that this is served under the “Patriotism” sauce – it is pure self-interest and spotlight generation along with obliviousness or pure lack of care for objective cards the country as a whole (with Artsakh) is playing with to get on its feet.

    – Young and pretty energetic person.

    • Are you willing to serve in Armenia’s corrupt army, Karina? For those Armenian families who try to keep their sons from the Armenian “army,” where they could be subjected to rapes, beatings, and other abuse, I say, good for them. When their country fails them, they have the right to give the finger to their country. And that is what these young heroes protesting in the streets are trying to change.

      Yes, protesting at streets is one say that problems are solved in democracies. The sooner Armenia’s regime will understand it, the sooner it will be able to save Armenia from destruction.

  5. Union with Russia is the only way to go, This orange revolutions organized from abroad serve Turkish interests, Putin is doing for Armenia what Armenians never did. He is a savior for us. Only Russia can protect Armenia and have the interest to do so, the EU is supporting turkey and azerbaijan.

    • So you’re suggesting Armenia should give up its independence? Why? Why are so many people so blindly putting Armenia’s future and well being in the hands of foreign powers?

      “He is a savior for us.” People who say this hold a negative and self-defeating attitude about Armenia and her people. While at the same time talk about Armenia with pride and bravado.

      Russia is supporting Armenia for its own self-interest. That’s what major powers do. Not because they really, really love us or sympathize or take pitty on us.

      Armenia needs to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible. This can’t be accomplished 100% but it can better than what it is today. Armenia must have a very close and productive relationship with Russia. But Russia is not a good example of how a country should be.

  6. I am proud of being Armenian, I am proud of the new youth in Armenia & disturbed with the Armenian Regime – I hope we will achieve our goal to keep Russia out & Serjes away from our land. I prise guys like Samson & rest of our striving young generations – Apreq yev sharunakeq. Hajox

  7. It saddens me that with the signing of the treaties, yes, Russian army bases remain, yet, Gasprom owns 100% of natural gas coming to Armenia & a big chunk of the electricity generating plants at Hrazdan. In sum, Russia will have the energy supply to Armenia under its control. What does this mean for Armenia & Karabagh? Did Armenia’s president have a choice in this matter?

    What is more important is the following- Had Armenia started paying its debt to Russia, this may not have happened. Had post-soviet Armenians not been so GREEDY this may not have happened, Armenia would have a different outcome!

    It seems too late (to me) at this point. Who realizes the impact? The youth!

  8. really funny part is that the author of article received his B.A. in international affairs from the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University. I agree with those that say we should align with Russia. Look what we achieved being with Russia (academy of science, industry, education) and look where we are now after 20 years of so of “independence”.

  9. Great article! Thank you for showing what these citizens have to go through just because they want a democratic government without so many corrupt criminals in it. They exercised their rights to assemble and free speech. The police worked against the rights of the citizens and “rounded them up”. That’s (Soviet) Russian influence. Thanks Samson, for an eyewitness account of the events!

  10. What are our alternatives, you only have to look at the neigbouring countries,I guess European countries told us our warships can not climb the mountains (back in 1900’s)when we needed them, recently we witnessed what U.S. of A. did to Syria’s opposition party,prior to that we witnessed what happened to Georgia during Bush years.Freedom is noble Idea it depends how you keep it and what you do with it when you have it.

    • noupar,

      This isn’t just Europe vs Russia, it’s about putting Armenia under the control of any country.

  11. It is obvious to all of us that we cannot survive in the region without the backing of the Russians and the majority of Armenians think the same way. However, in a democracy people should be allowed to express their opinion and in my opinion it was a mistake to ban these demonstrations since it damages the image of our country and the government as well.

    If the price to protect our country against the enemy is the 20 % of a gas company, let them have all of it. After all what good is a gas company to us if we lose Armenia.

    We should also look back into history and see how Armenia was reborn from the ashes of history. It was the Russian army that pushed back the Iranians from the Caucasus and it was them who settled us back in the region. Our joint armies pushed back the Turks beyond Kars and saved the population of Van from massacres. The Alexandropol Treaty saved us from being eliminated by the Turks, so which was better ? a Soviet Armenia or no Armenia at all ? and honestly people had a better life during the Soviet Era than now .

    If we want to be really independent then we need to concentrate all our efforts to make Armenia a strong country . Then we will have a choice to choose if we want to side with the East or the West. Until then Armenia will remain a Russian province .

  12. Irrespective of one’s political views the right to demonstrate is a basic right in a democracy. In a democracy demonstration cannot be ‘unauthorized’. In a democracy the police role is the protection, safely and liberty of all; demonstrators an non-demonstrators. The police can channel a demonstration but not stop the right to demonstrate. It is sad to observe, Armenia is not yet a democracy.

  13. We must unite all over the world and think as one regardless of our ideological differences , the time has come to save our young generation in Armenia and diaspora so they can continue to defend our homeland and interests in the future .

  14. all great comments. I heard that Russia is also selling arms to our enemies. money buys everything… favors, promises or broken ones.
    one comment was, ‘ what choice do we have ‘. the big bad wolf ,turkey is at our door step. what choice do we have. getting rid of corrupt government would be a better idea.

  15. Also just to point the irony. In the same email with this article, right under it actually was a tally from the recent ArmeniaFund telethon where out of $22.6mil raised $12.5 came from Russian Armenians. There are something like 1.5-2mil Armenians spread out in Russia building wealth and channeling it back to Armenia whether in big sums like those $500,000 / $1mil contributions that made up $12.5mil or the support they send back home – sure, let’s cut our relationship with Russia and go to Turkey to earn cash (like it’s done by a lot of people particularly women from Gyumri …). Even better, let’s cut our relationship with Russia, give up Karabagh (because there’s a direct link between those 2 events – want a couple of examples? Georgia: Abkhazita, Osetiya; Ukraine – Prednestrovye). Are all “democracy loving” people who commented above down for giving up Karabagh? You guys are using template arguments like democracy is good, corruption is bad – yes, on paper. In real life, things are a lot more complicate and if JC comes down tomorrow and becomes Armenian president, I’m 99.999999% convinced he’ll have trouble sorting things out.

    Moreover, can we stop with the anti-Russian hysteria – it’s some sort of toxic, irrational anti-Soviet flavored sentiment that a lot of Western Armenians haven’t been able to shed part due to lack of understanding a lot of what goes on, language limitations and western propaganda of “democratic” values. Seriously, can we just stick with being Armenian and not singing anyone else’s (European/American) songs for once. And please let’s not cultivate the already out of control “i’m young, loud therefore I know everything and must protest” trend. Young people all around the world not just in Armenia have one common trait – they’ve got a lot to learn and that’s how they should be spending majority of their time, LEARNING, not teaching / preaching because we all know theoretical ideals, the question is how to get there and it’s a very fine chess game. Encouraging young people to approach things through the royal time waste on the streets tells me the adults who are advising it either have a western agenda that they’re realizing through youth or just don’t understand the situation and the damage this is causing on many levels (from personal to this youth to country’s reputation overall, not to mention entertainment value and material for Azeri and Turkish media). I know at the end of the day it’s a pitifully small group of people doing these protests, but i wish even this wasn’t the case per above. Of course certain organizations like CivilNet make it all look a lot bigger than it is, i wonder why … You gotta love that in most videos from these eyewitness accounts out of 10 people 7-8 are with a camera ready to report something somewhere, so i don’t know about citizens standing up for something, i know a lot of people seem to be working at those events.

    • Karina,

      Can’t we have more democracy, less corruption and Karabakh at the same time? Why is it a choice between the two? Because Russia wants it that way?

      And yes, in general democracy and less corruption is good. Countries with greater democracy, open societies, ability to protest and complain about the government without being physically threatened and with good controls on corruption do a lot better than those lacking in these areas.

      I really don’t get this mentality. There are hundreds of countries where you can look and compare. And it’s clear those with stronger democratic institutions are more prosperous, have better living conditions, and the people there want to actually live there! These are not talking points, but reality.

      Again, why is a choice between democracy and Karabakh? Someone please explain.

      “sure, let’s cut our relationship with Russia and go to Turkey to earn cash”
      Sorry but this makes no sense.

      “not to mention entertainment value and material for Azeri and Turkish media”
      Why should we care about what they think? Screw them.

      So what alternative form of governing do you suggest instead of a western style democracy?

    • Yes, can we stick to being Armenian instead of spreading Kremlin’s propaganda about how bad democracy is, and how Armenia should remain colony of a rotten autocracy such as Russia? Democracy is not good just on paper. Democracy works in real life. Democracy has turned the United States from a country of just 3 million (note: Armenia’s pre-independence population) to a superpower of 300 million. And democracy has done that by attracting millions of people each year into America, including thousands of Armenians who flee Armenia and come here to the United States to make this country stronger and more prosperous. These young heroes in Yerevan want to make Armenia into a real country so Armenians will instead want to remain in Armenia and make it stronger and more prosperous.

      Russian-Armenians are willing to make large “donations” because wealthy Russian-Armenian thugs are willing to support their fellow thugs in Armenia. Supporting the oligarchic system in Armenia serves both their interests but weakens Armenia. Diasporans in the United States and other democracies know better.

  16. I’m ashamed to have these people as compatriots. The greatest leader of our time visits Armenia and pays his respects to the Armenian martyrs of 1915 and announces cuts in gas and weaponry prices and look at all this hate and ignorance. What a shame. Where would these people we if it wasn’t for Russia’s protective hand over Armenia during the past two hundred years?

  17. If Putin should go home, should then all Armenians living in Russia also go back home? That would put a big dent into fundraising projects in the future, wouldn’t it? Armenia is on a Russian lifeline at the moment just to make any kind of money. Russia is vocal about its support of Genocide recognition. I honestly don’t understand you people – this article is insulting at the very least. A few young, obviously controlled individuals think “democracy” is protesting anyone and anything. This protest seems more like the doing of some Armenian oligarch who is try to size up his ‘power’ in the face of foreign politicians or what have you. The good news here is that this protest was clearly some fringe minority. Shame on the AW for even trying to blow it into something bigger. I’m sure Turkey is loving the reporting, considering Russia is the only deterrent to any outside influence dominating completely. Russian military bases are better than Turskish/Azeri/Iranian villages. Wake up – people.

  18. Excellent article, Samson, Martirosyan. We, truly patriotic Diasporans are behind you and ready to support your cause any way we can. These brave young Armenians are heroes. They are showing that wannabe “tzar” and caricature of a “president” (i.e. Putin) that we Armenians will not tolerate his attempt to turn Armenia into a Russian province. Keep up the good job, guys. Ապրեք, մեր եղբայրներ և քույրեր: Շարունակեք ձեր հայրենասեր գործը:

    Those misguided Armenians who say that Russia is our only option fail to realize that relying on Russia will lead to Armenia’s destruction. Russia is trying to keep us weak precisely so we will keep depending on Russia. Russia is supporting Armenia’s criminal-oligarchic government. Armenia’s ruling thugs are replicating the oligarchic system of Russia. Russia is smothering Armenia’s development, because Russia does not want a strong, independent Armenia. It wants a local colony that it will always control.

    And make no mistake, the moment Russia no longer needs Armenia, it will throw away Armenia like a used handkerchief. Russia has done that many times before, despite our loyalty. How did the Genocide of 1915 happen right under Russia’s nose? We Armenians were sure that mighty Russia would never allow that to happen. Instead, Russia was either unwilling or unable (due to its sheer incompetent military) to protect the Armenians. Armenians were simply was not a priority for Russia.

    Other examples are abundant. In 1918, Russians abandoned us to the invading Turks, because that is what their priorities told them to do. In 1920, Russians waited till Armenia was nearly swallowed by the Turks, so we would beg them to “save” us. In 1921, Russia gave Kars, Nakhijevan, and Karabakh to our enemies, just because our enemies were more important to them. In 1988, Russians waited for three days while Armenians were being massacred in Sumgait, just because it Azerbaijan was more important to them. In 1991, Russian troops destroyed many Armenian villages in the notorious “Operation Ring” WITH Azeri forces, just because it was in their interests to do so.

    What history has taught us is that Russia is too unreliable to rely upon on a long run. Russia will abandon us the moment it suits its needs, say, when Azerbaijan or Turkey becomes more important to them. Russia is already selling arms to Azerbaijan. What will happen when Russia drops us? It will be 1915, 1918, 1920, and 1988 all over again. Therefore, relying on Russia without a strong and self-sufficient Armenia will only lead to the destruction of Armenia. The only way to make Armenia stronger is by having a democratic Armenia, because Armenians are not willing to invest, live, and die in an undemocratic Armenia. And that is what these brave young Armenians are trying to do. They are trying to save Armenia from its demise.

    • Dear Vahagn,
      Just remember that Bolshevik and red army gave away our sacred lands to Turks. Lenin, like Uncle Joe, was not a Russian …he was a pro Turk individual who wanted Turkey to be part of his Empire, even all those Armenian gifts that he gave away to Turkic tribes he was failed and we Armenians lost all those historical lands to Turkic tribes!!

    • And how do we know that the next leader of Russia won’t be pro-Turkish like Lenin? That’s the whole point, Russia has proven too unreliable to rely upon blindly without strengthening Armenia.

  19. Firstly to those who exaggerate things.If Armenia wishes to pact with Customs Union for reasons not only Customs duties and levies on goods(as the name implies)also sort of a leniency towards Russia,it is O.K. while it can also be partners with NATO( quite a few Armenian soldiers officers in both Afganistan and Kosovo BTW).Not tpo forget her desire to join the EU( in due time=)FINE!!!this is a multi facet diplomacy that,which times like these is better than to side or join with ONLY ONE.Some here think it is NEW, that of the Customs Union.Hell, Armenia signed a bilateral defensive pact with RF, or -perhaps the Joint defensive one with 4 more other ex-soviet union republics ,ending in 2049..then why so much NOISE ABOUT THIS so called Customs Union.As an ex busionessman,id say any Customs oriented facility-pact is good for ANY NATION.Let alone with neighbour Russia that buys quite a bit of our Cognac,wine and other …As to energy.Why are you not aware of the fact that IRAN´s energy Ministre was in Yerevan only couple days ago and OFFERED GAS!!!!!
    Yerevan is doing o.k. by such like partneerships.No one is going to BOSS US!!! don´t worry.It is great turkey that is saddened these days because her importance Mid East related is being cut down.A rising power Iran and India, are there to deal with -near abroad-then of course Greece.Bulgaria etc.Then why so much fuss about Russia. True, latter has not done enough to appease us, as the U.s., so to speak,EU is on the side… that will eventually be -probably-important for us. for now Russia may do.Later, just very soon later I expect Uncle Sam will be more kind towards Armenia,dropping great Turkey a bit.Time Armenia got some real help from U.S.A.My opinion!!!!

  20. it pathetic how these agant provoctours are allowed to spew their war against reason with a straight face. Armenians know you better than you masters realize.

    this kind of nonsense goes on every time a non western puppet independant leadership arises. look around, these kind of western financed conspiracies are all over the middle east former soviet union and elsewhere.

  21. I read the article and became proud, then read the comments and got ashamed of my nation. It is not the Russians that enslaved us, but the slaves among us who would rather sell the entire country to Russia than take weapons and go defend the border. What else Russians should do to prove that they don’t give a single shit about us and their only interest is a weak and corrupt Armenia that they are able to totally control?

  22. If I were a Russian and I saw this I would want my government to expel all Armenian migrant workers in Russia, cut off all gas and oil deliveries, stop the providing support to keep the Armenian atomic plant operating, stop all investments, stop all weapons deliveries, stop all investments and shutdown the Russian base in Gyumri. Then I would sit back and give you people the middle finger as you finally disappear of the face of this earth. But being that I am an Armenian, all I can do is lower my head and shake it in disbelief…

    • Seriously? That was a very weak shaming there.

      Russia has been bullying Armenia and other countries by using gas prices and by selling advanced arms to Azerbaijan. She will push and bully and dominate Armenia. This is not in Armenia’s interest. Russia is not helping Armenia out of altruistic reasons.

      The issue is that is Armenia going to have a healthy and beneficial relationship with Russia, or be a province of Russia while a republic in name only? This is the issue.

  23. This Mister About Samson Martirosyan doesn’t have any notion about geopolitics and survival. Russia is the only choice of security for Armenia, like it or not. Without Russia Armenia will easily be destroyed by Turkey and Azerbaidjan. Or does Mister Martirosyan imagine that USA will come to protect Armenia? Or the European Union? Forget it …, and open your eyes Mister Martirosyan. Do not be ingenuous, or don’t try to deceive the others. But The Armenian Weekly could choose better informed and prepared commentators, that has much better knowledge about the big picture of the South Caucasian region.

    • Why is Russia selling billions of dollars of weapons to Azerbaijan? And billions is not an exaggeration. Billions. And this includes the newer T-90 tanks, which Armenia does not have. Please explain why Russia is selling weapons to Azerbaijan?

      Russia has no control of these weapons once in Azerbaijan’s hands. Azerbaijan will use them against Karabakh and Armenia if they start a war. Please explain.

  24. All this stems from our difficult position because of Karabagh. We need someone to protect us and this is the Russians although we should not really trust them because they are arming Azerbajian at the same time. The ony solution is to negotiate with the Azerbajiani’s give them back the occupied lands (not Karabagh) and then we would be in a much stronger position to decide what is best for our country.

    • {“…give them back the occupied lands…”}

      what so-called ‘occupied’ lands are you talking about friend ?
      do you even know anything about Karabagh history or Armenian history to make such an absurd statement ?

      The artificial designation ‘Nagorno’ was manufactured by Stalin to artificially divide historic one-piece Artsakh into two parts: highlands and lowlands. The good old divide-and-conquer.
      Currently the fascist, terrorist state of Axerbaijan is occupying Lowlands Karabagh: Clear ?

      And how long do you think NKR will last completely surrounded by TatarTurks, cut off from Mother Armenia ?
      Do you know anything about TatarTurks ?
      Do you know where they came from, how they ended up in the Caucasus, how they displaced and replaced the local, indigenous peoples ?

      And before you ‘give’ anything ‘back’, maybe you should travel to Artsakh and talk to the locals, whose sons and fathers died LIBERATING occupied Armenian lands: see if you can convince anyone to ‘give back’ their own lands.

      And I take it you did not participate in the liberation of Armenian lands during the NKR war.
      Didn’t watch your childhood friends get blown to bits in front of you by AzeriTatarTurk invaders, right ?
      Maybe that’s why you so nonchalantly are ready to ‘give’.

  25. {” Please explain.”} (Random Armenian // December 5, 2013 at 9:51 am //)

    Gladly.

    Azerbaijan has the funds, in abundance, to buy weapons from anyone: Israel, Turkey, Europe, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.
    If Russia did not sell them weapons, nothing – nothing – can stop Azerbaijan from buying high quality weapons from _anywhere_.
    There is a long list of countries eager to sell weaponry, if you got the cash.
    It will cost Azerbaijan more to replace their Russian-design weapons, but they are literally awash in cash.
    Agreed ?

    The S-300 that only Russia possesses and sold to Azerbaijan is useless to Azerbaijan: it is an air-defense system.
    Neither RoA nor NKR have an offensive air-force: Armenians’ air-force is ground support only.
    Armenia has massive numbers of long-range missiles: Neither S-300 nor US Patriot are effective against missiles.

    [Patriot failed miserably during the Iraq wars against the ancient Scuds. Event Israel’s ‘vaunted’ Iron Dome (an improved copy of the improved Patriot) has been totally ineffective against the primitive Palestinian missiles, despite the Israeli public claims to the contrary]

    Any war between Azerbaijan and RoA+NKR will be largely a ground war: Azerbaijan will attempt to breach the deep defensive lines Armenians have built over 20 years on largely mountainous terrain.
    Even highly advanced T-90 tanks don’t have much of advantage on mountain roads: one guy with advanced anti-tank can stop the mighty T-90.
    (little known info: Armenians have advanced European and Russian anti-tank and our engineers have even developed improvements to them).

    Russia sells weapons to Azerbaijan, then Putin tells Aliyev when he was in Baku that “Karabagh issue can only be solved peacefully”.
    Translation: “Do not even think about using the weapons I just sold you against NKR or RoA.”
    A high ranking Russian commander in RoA publicly states that the Russian forces will get involved, under the CSTO treaty, if Azerbaijan attacks RoA.(you think he said that without Moscow’s approval ?)

    Let us assume Russia does not get involved, and Azerbaijan dukes it out with just NKR+RoA.
    The fact that Azerbaijan is equipped with Russian-design weaponry is a tremendous advantage to our side: our side is equipped with the same, so their strengths and weakness have been studies for years and are well known.
    RoA and NKR military have already developed methods and countermeasures given their intimate knowledge.
    100% effective ? Of course not. But much better odds than if Azerbaijan was equipped with unfamiliar foreign weaponry.

    Let us assume Azerbaijan was instead equipped with non-Russian design weaponry during the same conflict: see the difference now ?

    People who complain about Russians selling weapons to Azerbaijan can’t seem to grasp the simple fact that Azerbaijan can buy high quality weapons, just as lethal, just as sophisticated, from dozens of countries in the world.

    Hopefully my short explanation will put to bed the useless chattering about Russia selling weapons to Azerbaijan.

    • Avery,

      The Patriot missile system was horrible in the first gulf war because it was the first time it was being used against other missiles. It was original designed for anti-aircraft but then expanded towards missiles. In the second gulf war it had better success against incoming missiles which were smaller than scuds. The Patriots also shot down 2 friendly aircraft. So the system has improved and is continuing to be updated and made more effective. But the Patriots are a red herring in this discussion, unless Azerbaijan acquires them.

      The S-300 are mobile and they have decent range. If they’re deployed toward Karabakh they can cover their troops and Karabakh airspace. Armenia has an airforce which includes SU-25. These would be used against ground forces and you probably want to use them against Azeri assets beyond Karabakh in a war. But the S-300 could be used against any Armenian air strikes. But then again I am no more of a military analyst than you are. So here is some analysis I found on the web:
      http://geimint.blogspot.com/2013/06/azeri-favorit-located.html
      The S-300 are mobile and they can be moved closer towards Armenian forces. And I’m sure Azerbaijan will attack Armenia proper, not just Artsakh.

      So I guess the other question is, why is Azerbaijan buying from Russia when they could get equipment from other countries? Maybe they want to be familiar with the systems Armenia has?

    • Avery,

      “(little known info: Armenians have advanced European and Russian anti-tank and our engineers have even developed improvements to them).”

      That’s good to hear. Armenia needs to develop more stuff like this so that in-house engineering knowhow can be developed. Keep the engineers in Armenia.

      That said, Russia selling advanced hardware to Azerbaijan is little comfort. It also sends very mixed signals.

  26. If any doubts about the dilemma of Armenia’s pro-Western or pro-Russian orientation for the purposes of her defense and national security might have existed before 2008, after that year such doubts must be put to rest. When pro-Western Georgia started war against South Ossetia and Russian peace-keepers stationed there were killed, Russia intervened and could have occupied Georgia in a matter of several hours. Americans and Europeans haven’t moved a finger to shield Georgia from the risk of imminent erosion from the world map. I’m absolutely astonished at narrow-mindedness and political myopia of some commentators failing to see how the West didn’t come to Georgia’s rescue, essentially, betraying the country. With Russia, Armenia at least has the CSTO treaty. Yes, it is not a guarantee that Russia will interfere in the possible new war against Armenia that Khan Ilham is dreaming about, but at the very least it serves as a credible deterrent. Yes, Russia serves as guarantor of Armenia’s security. It, understandably, has its advantages and disadvantages, but for now there is no other security arrangement.

    • john,

      No one here expects the west to guarantee Armenia’s security. Any Western alliances would have been economic, like the EU partnership program. Armenia was working closely with the EU on this for 3 years! Armenia was bullied into the Customs Union by Russia. The fact that Russia will do such a thing should make people look at Russian relationships with a level head and caution. Armenia has to have close relations with Russia, including military. But it’s not an equal partnership.

      I would have loved to see Armenia moved towards European standards. Russia is not a good model to emulate.

      One can argue that better economic policies and less corruption is tied in with Armenia’s security. It means a stronger economy, less people or even close to no people migrating and thus a larger tax base to help support the Armenian military. Armenia’s migration problem is a security issue!

    • Random,

      [No one here expects the west to guarantee Armenia’s security.] Then, who will? Best scenario: Armenia on her own, but is she capable as of now?

      [Any Western alliances would have been economic, like the EU partnership program.] This is not true, and the best prove is NATO’s expansion eastwards and invitation to many Eastern European and former Soviet nations for membership in the alliance. What economic benefits from Armenia’s EU associate membership? Is the EU going to supply gas and gasoline to Armenia? Are Armenian products compatible on the European market? Ridiculous. Ideally, Armenia could combine Western economic programs with her strategic military alliance with Russia. But Armenia has tried that. At some point, apparently, Russians have said “aut Caesar aut nihil”. What do you choose? Physical security of your country and her citizens or some illusive EU economic programs?

      [Armenia was bullied into the Customs Union by Russia.] There is no indication that Russia has bullied Armenia, or Ukraine, for that matter, into the Customs Union. I gather the moment could have arrived for the Armenian leadership to make their choice, and I think, for now, the concern over national security has prevailed over the concern for Armenia’s association with the EU.

      You complain that Armenia’s close relations with Russia, including military, are not equal partnership. Dear compatriot, do you seriously think that if and when NATO will have close relations with Armenia in the military field it will be “equal partnership”? Jesus Christ! How on earth is it possible for a smaller country to have “equal” relations with any of those monster superpowers?

      [I would have loved to see Armenia moved towards European standards.] What European standards? Widespread propaganda of homosexualism or oral sex to 5th-graders? Or dubious concept of “political correctness”? Or embracing alien Muslim culture to the detriment of Europe’s indigenous population? Europe is dying, slowly but surely. I wouldn’t want Armenia to be on the same sinking ship.

      Yes, better economic policies and less corruption is tied in with Armenia’s security. But this is neither Russia nor EU’s business. This is something that Armenia herself must do by utilizing her internal resources (intellectual potential, first of all).

    • Random Armenian: Is Customs Union with Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus not an economic alliance for Armenia?

    • john,

      “Ideally, Armenia could combine Western economic programs with her strategic military alliance with Russia. But Armenia has tried that. At some point, apparently, Russians have said “aut Caesar aut nihil”. What do you choose? Physical security of your country and her citizens or some illusive EU economic programs?”

      You’re just pointing out that Armenia is indeed being bullied. Isn’t Armenia supposed to be independent and make her own economic choices? Apparently Russia has a say in this. Specially since Russia owns so much of Armenian infrastructure. And yes, there are unfortunately economic realities that Russia has used to gain more and more ownership of Armenian assets. And these are being used to push and pull Armenia in directions Russia wants.

      Russia needs to offer high standards matching those of Europe.

      Has Europe bullied Armenia?

    • “Yes, better economic policies and less corruption is tied in with Armenia’s security. But this is neither Russia nor EU’s business. This is something that Armenia herself must do by utilizing her internal resources (intellectual potential, first of all).”

      Well Russia seems to feel what happens in Armenia is very much her business.

      As for corruption, Armenia should be open seeking experience from EU countries in reducing corruption. This is something that should be done sooner rather than later and Armenia should benefit from the experiences of others.

    • john,

      Regarding the “equalness” of Russo-Armenian military alliance, I was thinking of to comments such as the following from another commentator:

      “Thank God for the Rise of Russia and the Russo-Armenian alliance.”

      There are a lot of Armenians who go praising a major power whenever they receive help from them. It’s this old Armenian habit of seeing external countries as our salvation and putting our future in others’ hands. We have been burned by this so many times before.

      Any major power will do things for their benefit at the expense of the little guys. This includes America and Europe. We have to be realistic about alliance with Russia and push for self-reliance as much as possible. Currently this is a very mixed progress in Armenia. The current administration can do more.

      I think we are in agreement in this.

  27. Maladec and a big spasiba(!) to all the clear-minded, politically pragmatic, pro-Russian, Armenian patriots commenting on this board.

    A special bravo(!) to comrade Avery’s lucid explanation regarding arms sales to Azerbaijan. But you forgot to mention one other important fact: Two years ago Israel agreed to sell $1.6 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) worth of arms to Baku. And as we all know, unlike Moscow, Tel Aviv actually encourages Baku’s aggressive posturing against Armenia.

    Yes, Baku has a surplus of petrodollars to spend on toys. I rather they get their stuff from Russia, not only because Armenian forces will be familiar with their capabilities but also because once they purchase arms from Russia, Moscow will have more leverage over Baku.

    Anyway, thank you Avery for being here and for being one of the few sane voices in the American-Armenian community.

    Thank God for the Rise of Russia and the Russo-Armenian alliance.

    • Is “Vladimir Putin” the notorios “Arevordi,” the blogger of the worst self-hating site on the web? The one that calls Armenians genetically damaged peasants? Check out one sample of the sheer self-hatred of the pro-Russian apologists among us:
      http://theriseofrussia.blogspot.com/2012/08/collective-destructionism-and-armenias.html

      We Armenians certainly do not need slave-minded self-haters. What we need is to realize that Russia does what Russia wants, and when Russia finds it profitable to throw under our enemy’s paws, it will not hesitate to do so. What we need instead is to strengthen Armenia so it can defend itself when (mark my words, WHEN) Russia abandons us, and the only proven way to do it is by adopting democracy.

  28. Under above post,i.e. supposedly by Vladimir Putin(or one that praises the former)…no I have nothing to say to that.But hold it there Mr.We are a FREEDOM LOVING PEOPLE AND OUR STATE NATION IS A FREE INDEPENMDENT ARMENIA.gET THAT STRIAGHT PLEASE.iN MY PREVIOUS POST I MADE IT QUITE CLEAR THAT THE tREATY OR PACT WITH rUSSIA IS OLD.fEW YRS AGO IT WAS SIGNED.DURATIONM ,TILL 2049.
    So much for that!!!
    But I like and honour people like N E L S O N MANDELA,who passed on today at 95 yrs of age.A man of integrity and belief in FREEDOM.BTW, in a news cast it is mentioned that great Turkey,yrs ago gifted Mandela ATATURK´s freedom????? award(which Mandela refused siting Hiuman rights violation by former and his country)) read news carefully….please.
    But the, later( this is the Turkish espertise i ´m very much afraid of) he was convinced,pursuaded???? to take it…
    Yeah,I hope No Armenian will be convinced by Aghtamara, Diarbaikira, and now a little known Church in SIVAS, namely Soupor kevork(St.George) is to be repaired and as SHEKER HELVASI,Bakhlava offered to our Parzamid, sorry Oaremid compatriots….
    So much for today.STAY REE ARMENIA-ARMENIASN .Don´t allow anyone to BOSS you!!!!!pacts,PAZHALSTYA WHY NOT, with European Union, with russia and Nato (USA) why not all three are good .Let´s get some aid-help from all of them LIKE GREAT TURKLEY HAS DONE FOR MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY<….

  29. Gurgen
    “Then I would sit back and give you people the middle finger as you finally disappear of the face of this earth.”

    Your comment is disgusting.

    And what does your use of the word “finally” imply? Have you been waiting a long time for us to “disappear of[sic] the face of this earth?”

  30. irony: Samson Martirosyan … received his B.A. in international affairs from the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University in Yerevan

    need I say more?

  31. Vlad, yes, you should say more: “Martirosian has interned at the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan and has volunteered his time with various organizations. He is currently a Board member of the European Youth Parliament of Armenia.”

    He graduated from a Russian school but he is making a living serving Western interests. This one of the fundamental problems with Russia, they don’t fund social organizations.

    PS: Bravo indeed Avery and spasiba you Vladimir Putin for you input.

    PS: Vahagan, aren’t you one of them Uncle Sam’s democracy peddling cyber warriors? Thank you for sharing that Russian-Armenian link with us, it actually looks like a very interesting blog.

    • Harutik, aren’t you one of Kremlin’s and Serzhik’s propaganda mouthpieces that are destructive to Armenia. The link is for “Armenian” self-haters who have no faith in our nation’s ability to have an independent state. No wonder you liked it.

  32. I think RoA government should adopt the practice of national referendums (or questions of national importance included in the ballots for various elections, as in the U.S.) on vital issues of public concern, such as RoA’s membership in the CU. It seems that the majority of RoA citizens were in favor of such membership. Then, Baron Samson Mardirosyan, what purpose does your article serve? That a thousand or so people protested? Well, there will always be those who disagree. But if the majority of population supported the move, what would you expect your government to do? On the one hand, there are a few democracy-obsessed people here @ AW whining about the lack of democracy; and, on the other, had the government supported the minority, there could be a civil upheaval. The government would intervene, the blood would inevitably be shed, if not by government by provocateurs for sure, and the same democracy-obsessed whining simpletons would bawl and squall about silencing people with force. Stop rocking the boat already. No society is perfect and none had developed without going through dark periods, chaos, lawlessness and violations of basic democratic principles (Civil Rights Movement in the US, etc.). Let Armenia develop evolutionary. If at this stage CU and military alliance with Russia are the optimal prerequisites for Armenia’s survival, than be it. Did the West offer Armenia such arrangements?! If they did, I would be the first to reverse what I’ve just written here.

  33. Dear Samson

    You wrote “Protesters are no longer alone. The protest attracted the attention of major news media, including EuroNews, Human Rights House, Global Post, BBC, and Reuters”.,

    Are you proud of these fake news media?? where they never even mention the reality of Armenian Genocide in their own respective news!

    I am not Putin’s fan, but why all of sudden these Western news outlets tried to demonstrate anti Putin figure in their news from Yerevan?? I wonder how many Western leaders put his/her “holy foot” in Yerevan Genocide Memorial?? Just one or two….at least Putin a well known world figure put his foot there and a lay a wreath in the name of Russian people!! It is time to pray, for unity of all Armenians of the world, more than anything else!!

  34. Mr. Martirosyan:

    You assert “…. a very diverse group of more than 1,000 citizens took to the streets of Yerevan to protest Putin’s visit, “
    Can you prove it ?

    btw: when someone writes “the regime”, it immediately betrays one’s bias: it is not a “regime”. It is an Administration that was voted in with 58% of the electorate of RoA vs 37% for the opponent.
    Is the Obama Administration, which won 51.1% vs 47.2%, a “regime” ?

    Sorry, I digress.

    Where did you get the number 1000, Sir ?
    All the pictures and videos of the protest are at eye-level, so it is a little difficult to estimate from a distance.
    However, from all the available pictures and videos the number of protesters walking by at eye-level, I estimate there are no more than 200-300.
    And included in that number are quite a few news media people
    And included in that number are quite a few of the ‘regulars’: the same core group of people who appear at pretty much any protest about any issue.
    For example: there were a bunch of young people with face masks and a bunch with the on-finger salute: do you actually believe these were your average Yerevantsi residents protesting against CU ?
    The one-finger salute is a Western salute: we used a different gesture….you know the thumb protruding through…..
    So who are these people ? Do you know ?

    Back to the core issue: where did you get the number 1000 ?

    There is no birds-eye view picture or video to do an estimate that I can find.
    Who is it that came up with that number ?

    Can you please substantiate your claim that there were 1000 protesters from independent sources we can verify ?
    Can you please provide a link to a birds-eye view picture or video so we can see ?

    Thank you.

    —–

    Notes:

    Population of Yerevan is about 1.1 million.
    Population of Kiev is about 2.7 million.
    There were easily 100,000+ protesters in Kiev against CU a couple days ago.
    So where is the ‘massive’ protest against CU in Yerevan ?
    Even the unsubstantiated claim of 1000 protesters is nothing more than a blip.

    And here is another source that claims there were no more than 400 protesters.
    Don’t know the man: but can you please refute his claim of max 400 with facts ?
    Thank you.

    [Kocharyan: Unlike Ukraine, only some 400 people fought for EU Association Agreement in Armenia]
    http://panorama.am/en/politics/2013/12/06/qocharyan/

  35. I am not particularly a Russia fan because of her track record against Armenia, but given the way things are headed (Russia returning to its pre-bolshevik Christian heritage = positive), I keep my options open and remain hopeful that Russia will become a genuine partner of Armenia at some point in the future, and let Armenia prosper on its own free will.

    There is no doubt that Russia strong-armed Armenia into the CU. But then again I am not that happy with the Armenian government, because it should have made demands of its own for the benefit of Armenia’s citizens, not to mention that they should have started negotiations with Russia a lot sooner than all this time wasting with the EU that went on. There are a lot of things that are unknown to be making solid conclusions, for instance, did Russia request this of Armenia three years ago and finally had to bully Armenia at the last moment? And did Armenia know that it was acting against Russia’s wishes? Was Russia OK with the Armenia-EU deal but suddenly changed its mind?

    Regardless, I believe that this Putin protest was in poor form, and he should have been welcomed, not “unwelcomed”. Despite the anti-Putin propaganda that goes on in the west, he is an effective leader genuinely interested for the betterment of his country. And as that happens more and more, it is only a benefit for Armenia.

    As for the misguided youth making the protest, I would not call them “traitors”, “western agents” and the like. They clearly have their reasons, however wrong it may be. Perhaps they have been watching Eurovision for too long. Someone needs to gather them up and discuss with them the dynamics of the region. The reality is Russia has a vested interest in Armenia, at least for the short and mid term. We can all act smart and use this to our advantage, or act irresponsibly and believe the empty promises of the EU and possibly blunder our future. Does anyone in their right mind believe that the good old EU, UN or NATO will come to Armenia’s rescue once the fanatical Turkic savages invade Armenia from all sides? Let’s face reality. And yes the flip side is also true: Russia also needs Armenia, despite what some would claim. Russia uses Armenia to keep NATO away, and thus keep its security and influence in the region intact.

    • Hagop,

      One of the things that had crossed my mind was that Sarkissian was trying to get concessions out of Russia by negotiating with EU. That’s a dangerous game to play with Putin.

      “Does anyone in their right mind believe that the good old EU, UN or NATO will come to Armenia’s rescue once the fanatical Turkic savages invade Armenia from all sides?”

      Again, I don’t think anyone saw that the economic association with EU was going to translate into military security. Armenia is in no position to join NATO any more than Azerbaijan is. Ditto for becoming an EU member.

  36. Russia uses its gas exports to push and bully other countries. What I would love to see is the development of alternative sources of energy, along with a push for energy efficiency, to reduce Armenia’s reliance on gas. Armenia may still need a nuclear power plant for electricity. But putting that aside for a second, what can Armenia do to reduce reliance on energy from outside (and stop cutting of trees for fuel).

    – Wind power? large scale turbines? small turbines that can be produced in Armenia?
    – Solar power, with solar panel production in Armenia?
    – Solar hot water heating? This could easily be produced in Armenia.
    – Increasing energy efficiency with better insulation of existing homes and windows?
    – Anything that will help with the heating and energy needs of rural Armenia so they won’t need to cut down trees.

    A far-future idea: research into generating biofuels using bacteria. This is a big area of research around the world and that’s something maybe Armenia can jump on. Russia may not like it. And I’m guessing that any successful production of natural gas from bacteria would not satisfy Armenia’s needs 100% but maybe produce a decent percentage of it.

    This is part of Armenia’s security.

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