Armenian People Oppose Armenian Government – Zeyno Baran

Azerbaijan, Baku, 4 March / Trend corr A. Gasimova, Z. Novosvitski/ There is no outside influence of destabilization of the situation in Armenia after the presidential elections. "The way I see it, it is the Armenian people against the Armenian government. I do not believe there is any outside influence," the American expert Zeyno Baran said.

On the morning of 2 March, President Robert Kocheryan declared an emergency situation in Armenia until 20 March. This was caused by continuous demonstrations by supporters of the presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian, who accused the authorities of gerrymandering during the elections. The dispersal of the demonstration by the police resulted in confrontation. According to the Armenian Health Ministry, the number of the victims of the riots which took place in Yerevan on 1 March totalled 131, and eight of them died from gunshot wounds.

"The majority of Armenian people seem to be fed up with Armenia being isolated; they want to join the community of democratic countries, have good relations with Russia, but also the West," Ms Maran, Director of the Eurasian Research Centre at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, told Trend via e-mail.

According to Ms Baran, if Sargsyan takes office as President without reaching a satisfactory compromise with the opposition, fears of his legitimacy will be in question and he will not be able to resolve any of the tough issues, including Karabakh. "Some say this is similar to what happened recently in Georgia, but there is a huge difference and that is the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia, which will give the opposition another chance, whereas there are no such elections planned in Armenia," she said.

"I am not sure if we can call what is going on there the beginning of a colour revolution because the Armenian government has already shown it will use force against the people," Ms Baran said.

The destabilization of the situation in Armenia is attributed to the fact that the people more concerned about the social situation in the country rather than the achievement of foreign policy goals. "It is predetermined by the absence of resources for foreign mobilization, that is Armenia lacks mobilization because of foreign challenges and there too many big social problems concerning the Armenian population," Aleksandr Paliy, the expert of the Foreign Policy Institute of the Diplomatic Academy at the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine said.

According to the expert, now it is difficult to convince that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and relations with Turkey should be priorities in the presence of unsolved social problems. The expert said that there are conditions in Armenia for 'social explosion' that can lead the ongoing process of the formation of a contra-elite.

According to Paliy, the government can solve the situation. "The government will have to make very serous concessions. Sooner or later, a similar 'explosion' will end up with the victory and government structures supporting it. The development of events in this manner is not ruled out either," he said.

Since 20 February, Yerevan has been facing demonstrations, rally-marches, as well as student sit down protests organized by the opposition. The organizers and participants are protesting against the results of the elections. After violent suppression of the demonstration, many oppositionists were arrested, and their fate is still unknown. After the emergency situation was announced in the country, the mass media was put under censorship control.

On 19 February, Armenia held presidential elections. According to the final results by the Armenian Central Election Commission, Serzh Sargsyan, the head of the Republican Party, won the elections with 52.82% of votes (862,369). The ex-President Levon Ter-Petrosian took second place (21.5%).

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