Tensions Winding Down in Yerevan—For Now

Yesterday, President Armen Sarkissian gave a statement praising the “logical conclusion” of “democratic developments evolving in the country,” an apparent euphemism for the Velvet Revolution that has transpired the in the last several weeks in Armenia. The “logical conclusion” he was referencing was the concession made by the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), which agreed on Tuesday to vote for Pashinyan as the country’s interim prime minister on May 8.

Two boys share a joyful embrace in Armenia’s capital moments after Serge Sarkisian announced his resignation from the role of prime minister (Photo: Sofia Manukyan/The Armenian Weekly)

Sarkissian also highlighted the international attention the movement has brought the country, and hailed the “decisive role of our bright youth.” Missing from the statement, however, was explicit recognition of Pashinyan and his impending premiereship. Read the statement in its entirety here.

Speaking of diplomatic statements, Russia appears to have no shortage of them lately. “Russia expects that its benevolent relations with Armenia will remain constant whatever the current political situation in this republic leads to,” reported the Russian news agency, Tass, paraphrasing the statement given to reporters by President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Peskov also reiterated Russia’s impartiality as to who would be the country’s next leader.

Also today, the National Assembly was unable to elect a previously-nominated candidate, Emil Babayan, for the role of Constitutional Court judge earlier. As a reminder to readers, the Constitutional Court is Armenia’s highest legal body, and consists of nine member judges, who are voted in by the National Assembly. To win the seat, Babayan would have required a two-thirds vote (63 votes) from parliamentarians, but unfortunately for him, only 54 of the 105 MPs participated in the voting (despite the fact that there were actually 78 registered that morning according to a report by RFE/RL). Citing violations of legal procedure, the Tsarukyan and Yelk factions abstained from the vote.

On the whole, tensions appear to be winding down in Yerevan—at least for now. According to his announcements on Facebook, Nikol Pashinyan has been busy the last few days meeting with ambassadors and diplomats. Staying true to his emphasis on transparency, he has also been publishing the list of donations the people’s movement received, which totalled nearly 8 million AMD, and has made the reports of his team’s spending public on his Facebook page.

To leave you on a good note, here’s a video published by the news site, Armenian Times [Haykakan Zhamanak], the newspaper at which Nikol Pashinyan himself was once editor, in which people on the streets of Yerevan give answers to the question: “What should Nikol Pashinyan’s first steps be as prime minister?” Answers range from hopes for new parliamentary elections, to less debt, and better relations with Armenia’s neighbors.

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Karine Vann

Karine Vann has been assistant editor of the Weekly since the fall of 2017. Her writings focus primarily on the the politics of culture, media analyses, agribusiness, and global supply chains. She has received her Masters in Musicology at U. of Oxford and her writings on music have been published in Armenia’s Journal of Social Sciences. She is an outspoken opponent of throw-away consumer culture. If you have comments, questions, pitches, or leads, she can be reached at karine@armenianweekly.com.

4 Comments

  1. Once the people from the ground up have realized their collective power to unite, to collectively act and to collectively effect change in the face of authoritarianism, and once that becomes collective memory of society , then that sort of empowerment can have long-lasting and long-reaching powerful and positive effects on society.What I heard from those I know on the ground in the RoA is that this is about more than just a single man; it is about effecting change of power structures throughout society towards a more horizontal,democratic and transparent level.

  2. I hope people will not be upset when they see that the dream of driving Mercedes car is nothing more than a dream, and that Armenia is not rich enough to fulfill their dreams, not even Pashinyan will be able to deliver.

  3. What the peoples of armenia need from new goverment to do ..job..better life …what ??? What the peoples in armenia looking for in new goverment.i wish the best for armenia and armenian not only in armenia but all around the world

  4. Jeanne, you have expressed the conditions very accurately.
    Armenia now begins to walk a new, exciting and hopeful path. However, the path is also fraught with potential pitfalls. The people have seen and experienced what they can do. Once the genie has been let out of the bottle, it cannot be outback in. I hope for the peace, growth and future of the republic that the new governments knows and respects what it has unleashed and acts for the people, the same people that made a change in government possible.

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