Protesters March Against Serge Sarkisian’s Possible Return as Prime Minister

YEREVAN (A.W.)—This past weekend, a group of around 100 citizens from the grassroots initiative Չէ՛ք անցկացնի/No Pasaran (a term which, in English, translates to “You will not pass”) marched on Yerevan’s main streets to protest President Serge Sarkisian’s possible nomination to the role of prime minister.

Around 100 protesters from the activist group “No Pasaran” marched last Saturday to voice discontent over President Sarkisian’s potential nomination for prime minister. (Photo: Photolure)

Transitioning to the role of prime minister would ensure Sarkisian’s continued leadership of the country, since the constitutional changes his party spearheaded in 2015 have allocated major governing authorities to parliament (i.e. the prime minister), rather than the president (as it has been since the constitution was formed). The “No Pasaran” activists foreshadowed this possibility back in 2015, and the group was formed initially to compel citizens to vote “no” to the constitutional changes. When the referendum was passed, the group raised concerns for the numerous cases of election frauds during the referendum.

Davit Sanasaryan, one of the organizers, mentioned in his speech he gave during the march that they were marching against the president, and cited that in the last 10 years, Sarkisian’s regime has pushed approximately 400,000 citizens out of the country (by means of emigration); poverty has increased; and the foreign debt has escalated by $5 billion (USD). He called upon citizens to stand up to “false promises.” The protesters’ main slogan was a hashtag, #մերժիրսերժին (in English, “Reject Serge”), and many carried signs bearing satirical political cartoons by local alternative news site, Medialab.am.

Protesters at the March held signs with satirical political cartoons from the site MediaLab

The march reflected the discontent of certain segments of the population over the past months, which reached its peak after the vice president of the National Assembly, Eduard Sharmazanov, announced that President Sarkisian would consider the prime minister role—not out of personal wishes, but out of duty to the state (though this announcement in direct contradiction to the promise the president made in 2014 that he would pursue the prime minister role).

According to Tert.am, Sharmazanov compared the situation with the case of Winston Churchill or Charle de Gaulle, two political figures who also had made public promises, but “due to events, developments, and other situations, took steps years later that may have contradicted their words.” Sharmanazov also mentioned that President Sarkisian’s announcement about not becoming the prime minister or president in the future was made in different circumstances than the country is in now.

During the march, organizers announced that they had already began planning the next one, which is currently slated for April 9.

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Sofia Manukyan

Sofia Manukyan is a staff writer at the Armenian Weekly. Her specialization is in the field of human rights impacted by the private sector. She is particularly interested in how private interests impact the environment and socio-economics. She holds a degree in human rights from the University of Essex. In Armenia she is mostly engaged with promoting environmental protection and labor rights.

5 Comments

  1. The sooner serjuk’s criminal ruling RPA party and himself are thrown out the better for our nation,the longer it continues the worse it will get as Armenia is being emptied at a rate of 44000 per year with no genuine justice and rampant corruption by officials a system based on oligarchs for the benefit of oligarchs.

    All the people who clap and receive medals from this criminal regime is only prolonging the suffering of the people as the regime thinks it has the green light from the Diaspora to continue their plundering reign.

  2. Serzh is trying to hold the supreme power in his hands based on lies and bribes. He lied to the people by saying he not only will not pursue a leading role but in general is against the idea of being leader for more than 2 terms. This lie played a role in passing the “yes” vote for changing the government structure in Armenia. His party bribed the people by paying them $20 (the 10,000 dram vote). Now he and his circle say he is the only guy, the exceptional superman, who can handle the situation in the country. This indirectly implies the country has sunken during his leadership so deep it is almost hopeless to save it, and this is true. Armenia keeps losing its most precious capital, its people. The poverty and unemployment have increased significantly. Scores of people are leaving the country out of desperation. Serzh and his clan, his family and relatives, have flourished, on the other hand. He and many of his party members have looted the country, robed the country. Look at those empty and fat, uneducated faces! He wants the 150 million dram salary (more than $300,000), that is set for the PM, in a terribly poor country like Armenia. He wants 100% of the power in his own hands, including the army, the police, the internal troops. Probably he will feel better protected from the people that way. Memories of March 1 2008 are still vivid, when 10 civilians were murdered in the streets of Yerevan after he was “elected” president. His party wants him to stay and protect them, the thieves and the looters, the rapists of the nation. They should all go, as far as they can. Many of them should be tried in a court room. There should be appropriation of the appropriators. Can this happen in Armenia, a beheaded nation? It can, only if all Armenians stand up and act together. No Pasaran, Serzh. Just go home already. Please, please go.

  3. Unfortunately and sadly this is the same musical chairs that Putin and Medvedev played in Russia.
    The political games Sarkisian plays are from the same playbook of Putin.
    There are no ” different circumstances”. Armenia needs fresh new leadership.
    Otherwise, nothing will really change. What a great pity!!!
    Vart Adjemian

  4. I congratulate the Armenian protesters in Yerevan against Serge Sarkisian returning as Prime Minister. Armenian needs changes, especially in the long going corruption among Government members. Also, the failure of Armenia to incorporate Artsakh, our Historical Land, under Armenia. Thirty years have gone by and nothing has been done. At the same time our Soldiers & Village people are being killed week after week & with no help from Russia whom supposed to be our Ally. These issues must reviewed & addressed.

  5. Wow a huge crowd of “around 100 citizens”! Of what countries? This is all we can afford after our president signed a new budget with zero “aid” $$ to Armenia? Sad.

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