Serge Sarkisian Becomes Armenia’s Prime Minister, Pashinyan Calls for ‘Velvet Revolution’

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Earlier today, Armenia’s National Assembly elected former President Serge Sarkisian as Prime Minister of Armenia, with 76 votes in favor and 17 against. Sarkisian was supported his Republican Party (RPA), its coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), as well as more than a dozen lawmakers representing businessman Gagik Tsarukyan’s party, Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP), though Tsarukyan himself did not attend the session.

A local woman contributes a 10 AMD coin to Serge Sarkisian’s “pension fund,” last week (Photo: Sofia Manukyan/The Armenian Weekly)

The vote was boycotted by opposition Member of Parliament Nikol Pashinyan and three other deputies from the Yelk (“Way Out”) alliance, who have been busy organizing mass demonstrations in the streets of Yerevan condemning Sarkisian’s continued rule of the country. Pashinyan, who is continuing the protests in spite of the election, is calling for a “velvet revolution” (a term referencing the nonviolent political transition in Czechoslovakia from communism to a Western-style democracy at the end of 1989). The remaining five Yelk parliamentarians attended the session, voting against Sarkisian.

In his address to parliament following his election, he thanked his party, the ARF, and notably, the Tsarukyan alliance for their support while being “opposition.” According to EVN Report’s coverage on the social media site Twitter, Sarkisian also thanked the Yelk Alliance in his speech, saying this is how a parliamentary system should work and will have many opportunities to work together, ease any political tension and become “good friends.” He also called on Yelk deputies to bring their colleague, Pashinyan, “from the street to the parliament. It will be your greatest achievement, because I have never been alone in our political power. We have seen a lot of blood, but even I have never had thirst for our enemy’s blood.”

Justifying his desire to continue leading the after 10 years as president, Sarkisian said that even if he were not elected as prime minister, his input would be such that he would be “running the country from behind the scenes.” That would mean dodging responsibility for government policies, he claimed.

The leader of the ARF’s parliamentary faction and head of the party’s political affairs Armen Rustamyan said that the ARF and the RPA have already laid the groundwork for a “just” Armenia, and that Sarkisian’s election as prime minister has “opened a new page for the dignified future” of the country.

Addressing the turmoil taking place on the streets, he said that if people were truly in protest, there would be millions of people in the streets, not just thousands, “you know full well how many people are taking part in these demonstrations.”

Armenian police have announced that they have detained 80 citizens, among them many students, including student activist Davit Petrosyan who was active during the Military Deferment Law protests last year.

Protests and demonstrations continue on the streets of Yerevan. Follow RFE/RL’s live stream below.


Editor’s Note: It’s important to highlight that in Armenian politics, the term “opposition” does not necessarily imply a subversive political unit that opposes the goals and agendas of the ruling party. In news reports, the term “opposition party” is used simply to denote parties which do not share a formal alliance, or coalition, with the ruling party. 


Additional Reading:

In Praise of the New Prime Minister: Serge Sarkisian’s Achievements by Dr. Nerses Kopalyan.


  1. I don’t know how anyone can question Serge’s legitimacy.

    He always gets 99% of the vote and the elections are 100% fair according to Russian election observers.

  2. Okay, let him nominate his wife vice PM, recalling his Azerbaijani heritage, and prepare his son in law as next PM. He said yesterday Karabakh people will live in Karabakh forever. This obviously does not apply to him and his extended family, including his blood sucking brothers. They came to Armenia to loot the country and rape the people. What Rustamyan said is total nonsense. Armenia has less than 3 million population, so, considering children, elders, those who are citizens but are forced out of the country to support their families, millions of protesters is physically impossible.
    Still there is chance, and hope, he will be overthrown, if the people keep protesting in large numbers.

  3. A. R. F. shame on you ,you should have been on the front line of this demonstration. You have betrayed the Armenian people.
    Armenia should know that the whole diaspora is with the demonstrators. Armenia we are with you.

  4. Maybe someone should remind that genius ARF guy that Armenia barely has 2.5 million people, the majority elderly. Millions don’t even come to streets in such countries as Egypt or Iran with 80 million people and mostly young, let alone aging Armenia. Needless to say the real number of people who hate Serjik is far greater than the ones who dare to come out. Even I wouldn’t participate in an opposition demonstration, if I work as teacher and receive instructions from my Hanrapetakan school principal to not participate. Who are you trying to fool dear socialist ARF? The socialist who forms coalitions with oligarchs! The nationalist socialists who keep talking about Dro and Njdeh but live in gated mansions in Yerevan! Didn’t you say that you already laid the foundation for “just” Armenia ten years ago when you formed your first coalition with Serjik?! Oh, I assume you have been placing the reinforcement of the foundation for 10 years and now you are going to pour the concrete for another 10 years!

  5. Extremely disappointing.
    Nothing will change.
    Oligarchs and their cronies will continue to exploit and corruption will continue unabated.
    No hope for real change .
    Vart Adjemian

  6. Armenia is following in the dangerous footsteps of Putin, leading the country into a final autocracy. Serj’s control over the military, the majority of the parliament, his cowardly association with the oligarchs will all prepare him to be he eventual president- for- life of Armenia, just as with other autocratic States, like Erdogan of Turkey, Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Corban of Hungary,…. goodbye budding democratic Armenia

  7. ARF Eastern & Western Region owe the USA Armenian community an explaination why ARF supported Serge. ARF used to be with the People.

  8. This is the beginning of the end of the Republican-ARF regime in Armenia. Kudos to the youth on the streets!

  9. ARF, please act against Serge and the oligarchs because otherwise you will totally lose your credibility, which is already hanging by a thread.
    Or have you turned into the AGBU?
    Where, may I ask, is the AYF in all this?

  10. Sorry Richard,
    I am diasporan and I don’t support the RADICALS. Pashinyan is a rebellious idiot and he should go back to the front line and fight the Azeris, he does not have the qualifications to be a politician nor to be a Member of the Armenian Assembly.

    • Yes, he is a rebellious idiot since he lives in a small apartment in an old Soviet building. He spent years in jail for his political activism and previously been the editor of one the only surviving opposition newspapers in Armenia. Unlike Arthur Baghdasarian, Artashes Geghamian or diaspora darling ARF, he did not sell himself. He did not kiss Serjiks rear end in return for good salary and nice house. He walks all the way from Gyumri to Yerevan to give hope to the youth who are leaving the country out of desperation. He does not claim that he is socialist and then kiss Samuel Aleksanyans rear end. He does not drive German cars. Unlike Serjik, he can not afford a 200000 dollar facelift in South Korea. He is indeed idiot for sacrificing his life for the likes of you!

    • Jay,

      Agree. A ‘former’ levonakan involved in mass protests on March 1, 2008 to bring back the greatest evil of all times, Levon Ter-Petrossian, to power. That being the reason he spent two years in jail. Now he’s tasked with organizing a ‘rebellion’, but at the end he’ll get a high-ranking government or public position and forget about the people who now support him out of desperation. Let’s wait and see a bit. When it happens, remember my words…

  11. 👍…He was given a spot in the Armenian Assemply back in 2012,unfortunately, he prefers to take it to the streets. Hopefully, the current demonstrations will not become a sequel of 2008. I care. Thnx for the input John.

    • He spent two years in prison for being involved in mass protests?!!! Seriously? You really think that people should be put in jail for being involved in protests? I understand that You really don’t have much to say considering the absurdity of the situation with hanrapetakan and arf but it’s always good to think before opening your mouth! Interesting that those who often spew out that kind of nonsense live in democratic western societies. I can only imagine how many millions would have ended up in jail if being involved in protests was crime in west!

    • Its ok jay, you, your ilk, the arf, are all being swept to the side of complete irrelevance. Join us or keep quiet.

    • For me, anyone who manned the barricades back in March of 2008 supporting LTP’s coming back and thus the realization of his defeatist position on Artsakh cannot be a trustworthy person.

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