The Velvet Revolution Brings Armenia to a Standstill

After having his nomination for Prime Minister rejected in the Parliament of Armenia on Tuesday, Nikol Pashinyan during a demonstration late in the evening in Yerevan's Republic Square, which was the biggest since the Independence in 1991, gathering more than 200,000, called on his supporters to start a national strike in the country, blocking all roads, avenues, streets, even airports, metro stations, and the railroad.

Today, early in the morning, following to the call of the opposition leader, opposition supporters started the total blockade of the country.

All the roads in the country major or minor are closed, the freeways leading to the Armenian-Georgian borders and the Armenian-Iranian borders are closed. The main road leading to the airport was blocked by the population of the neighboring districts, and hours later the check in service employes of Zvartnots International Airport joined the national strike. The airport is still working and flights are arriving according to schedule, but departing passengers are having difficulties getting to the airport, forced to carry their languages to the airport on foot, only to find that they are unable to proceed with check-in.

The metro of Yerevan which has been the main means of transportation through the city since the beginning of the demonstrations there on April 13, also announced its intention to join the national strike and closed its doors. 

The railways also stopped working, as did all major or minor institutions, government and NGOs, in some cases due to difficulties of staff in getting to work; in others because of the will of the employees to join the national strike.

The same situation is found not only in Yerevan but also in other regions of Armenia where opposition supporters have blocked their regional administrations, demanding the heads of the regional administrations to join the national strike and the Velvet Revolution.

Armenia is in 'Pause' mode, but the streets are full of people demanding that Parliament select Nikol Pashinyan as the new PM. After the failed election, the National Assembly of Armenia will vote for a PM again, and if the MPs again do not select a Prime Minister, the Parliament will be dissolved, leading to new parliamentary elections in the country, which the opposition says it will boycott actively on the basis of the claim that the current election code will cause major obstacles for free and transparent elections. Having no trust on the government, they say the ruling Republican party will try to falsify votes again.

During yesterday's vote for the PM, Pashinyan was  the only candidate, being supported by 3 out of 4 factions in Parliament, but the majority in Parliament, the ruling Republican party, sabotaged his elections. One member of the ruling Republican party, General-Lieutenant and former Deputy Head of the National Security Service, and the head of the Shirak Marz, which includes the second largest city of Armenia, Felix Tsolakian, ignored the decision of the party and voted for Pashinyan to become the country's new PM, saying that it was his belief that the only way to solve the political crisis  was to nominate Pashinyan.

The police of Armenia, who were actively repressing the demonstrations and opposition marches from the start of the demonstrations, has already become if not loyal to the opposition movement, but non-resistant at this time. Opposition activists are calling out the famous slogan of the movement “The policemen are ours” and warmly greeting the police officers who makeno moves against them.

The situation is ever-changing. Despite the statement of the opposition leader that the movement has no foreign political agenda, and that this movement is not against Russia or any country, the ruling party representatives are trying to raise such fears in Russian media by stating that Pashinyan at a time was against Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union and Russia's lead Alliance of Collective Security Treaty Organization. Pashinyan has stated many times that he has changed his views on these topics, and that if elected as Prime Minister of Armenia he will not make any Foreign Political U-turns. However, according to trusted information sources coming from the Republican party, Robert Kocharyan, who was Armenia's second president 1998-2008 and Serz Sargsyan, the third president of Armenia 2008-2018, who was forced to resign as PM on Aprli 13, the result of demonstrations have gone to the Kremlin in an attempt to get Russian support to make a try to repress this unprecedented national movement in Armenia.

By Karen Tovmasyan in Yerevan

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02 May 2018 19:08