Armenia: Egypt events energizing opposition in Yerevan

00:49 • 03.02.11

By Marianna Grigoryan
Eurasia.net

Inspired by recent developments in North Africa, Armenia’s largest opposition coalition is preparing for “large-scale rallies” in Yerevan’s Liberty Square starting on February 18.

The government’s public response to the announcement by oppositionist Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National Congress (ANC) has been muted. But official actions suggest that authorities are taking the potential for an “Egypt Effect” in Armenia seriously. Soon after the ANC revealed its protest plans, Yerevan city officials countered that Liberty Square would be off limits because it would be the scene of “sports and cultural events” from February 15 to March 15.

ANC leaders say that if they can’t secure permission to rally in Liberty Square via PR efforts and official application procedures, they will simply protest without a permit by from the Yerevan Municipality.

Liberty Square has long been the preferred site for opposition rallies, and it was the scene of the 2008 post-presidential election crackdown that left at least 10 people killed. The date selected for the rally – the eve of the date of the 2008 presidential election, a vote that the ANC claims was stolen from Ter-Petrosyan – is designed to reinforce the opposition message.

Ter-Petrosyan, a skilled orator and former president, has repeatedly pledged to restart the ANC’s rallies in Liberty Square and has routinely had to contend with supposed “scheduling conflicts” of Yerevan Municipality. When the ANC staged protests at other venues in recent years, they failed to attract large numbers.

This time, timing may be on the ANC’s side, some analysts believe.

Aside from heated discussions among Armenians about the changes underway in Egypt and Tunisia, economic discontent is brewing in Armenia. An ANC demonstration, if it takes place, would come on the heels of angry protests by Yerevan street traders, whose activities were recently banned. High prices – consumer prices in 2010 increased by 8.8 percent compared with the previous year, according to the National Statistical Service – and near-double-digit inflation (9.4 percent in 2010) are fuelling a growing sense of discontent.

“Revolutions act like contagions,” said Manvel Sargsyan, a political analyst at the Armenian Center for National and International Studies. “In any event, the incidents in Tunisia and Egypt have already affected Armenia’s domestic life; the opposition has whipped up its excitement, and the authorities are responding accordingly.”

For now, the reactions of both sides are “predictable,” Sargsyan said. For the opposition to succeed in promoting substantive political changes, he added, Ter-Petrosyan and others have to move beyond simply talking about holding protests. “They must set goals and achieve them,” he said.

The leader of the opposition Heritage party’s parliamentary faction, Stepan Safaryan, agreed; while the complaints of protesters in Egypt and Tunisia may resonate in Armenia amid the simmering discontent about runaway prices and dwindling jobs, staging a rally, by itself, is not much of a political goal. “We need to clarify the issues,” said Safaryan.

“Occupying the Liberty Square cannot be a goal when we face the problem of restoring the rights of the people and many other important issues.”

Eduard Sharmazanov, the spokesperson for President Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia, downplayed the chances that the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings will prompt a large number of Armenians to take to the streets. “There is some discontent in Armenia, but there are no grounds for a social revolt,” Sharmazanov said. “Armenian authorities are determined to carry out reforms to alleviate the consequences of the [economic] crisis.”

One Yerevan pensioner, 63-year-old Janik Avagyan, scoffed at such rhetoric, and expressed readiness to protest. Social and economic conditions, Avagyan asserted, were worsening by the day. “Everything gets more expensive, the public utilities, the food, life, and the authorities only give promises,” Avagyan said.

Reversely, one Yerevan taxi driver said that while events in Egypt had captivated the attention of Armenians, he personally remained reluctant to throw his support behind Ter-Petrosyan. The driver, who declined to give his name, voiced disappointment over the outcome of the protest movement in 2008, and expressed the belief that Ter-Petrosyan was merely trying to position himself for another presidential run in 2013.

“After hundreds of thousands of people attended his rallies and the notorious events [of 2008], Levon Ter-Petrosyan dropped out of sight, and now he shows up again,” said the driver. “Why should I believe him?”

 

Armenian News - Tert.am





LATEST NEWSAll Today news

10:37 • 02/03

Armenian authorities will try to create pro-Western opposition - political engineer

09:47 • 02/03

Prince Williams starts royal tour to China

09:31 • 02/03

All women victims of violence in Turkey

09:22 • 02/03

Ukraine crisis: Kerry, Lavrov set for Geneva talks

15:50 • 01/03

Kristin Scott Thomas: Film actresses face age 'disaster'

15:30 • 01/03

ECB braces for QE as others shift rates

14:46 • 01/03

President Erdoğan visits Mecca for pilgrimage

14:28 • 01/03

No disagreements between opposition, civil society

13:56 • 01/03

Apple car rumors fuel Geneva debate about car of future

13:37 • 01/03

7th anniversary of tragic events in Armenia’s capital

13:13 • 01/03

US moves to deport 150 Bosnians over war crimes

12:50 • 01/03

Southern railway communication alternative for Armenia – expert

12:05 • 01/03

Estonia election begins amid Russia fears

11:10 • 01/03

Russians to march in memory of murdered critic of Putin

10:42 • 01/03

US-Israel ties fraying over Netanyahu speech, Iran talks

17:36 • 28/02

Bako Sahakyan hosts delegation from Armenia

17:00 • 28/02

Argentine-Armenians protest outside Azerbaijani embassy

16:41 • 28/02

Taking a leaf from the Armenians’ book - The Telegraph

16:37 • 28/02

Iran eyeing small nuclear reactors

16:11 • 28/02

Russia seeks to declare Premyakov mentally incompetent - civic activist

15:27 • 28/02

World's first ever three-way same-sex marriage registered

14:30 • 28/02

Probe launched into Armenian serviceman's death

14:12 • 28/02

IS fighters attack Iraqi city ahead of army offensive

13:48 • 28/02

Armenia to rule out illegal drug import from EEU - official

12:50 • 28/02

Haykakan Zhamanak: Production essentially cut down essentially in Armenia

12:41 • 28/02

168 Zham: No wine and brandy exported from Armenia

12:26 • 28/02

Haykakan Zhamanak: Foreign transfers to Armenia cut down twice

12:00 • 28/02

Hraparak: Armenia's civil aviation agency without chief for over a year

11:32 • 28/02

Zhoghovurd: Prosperous Armenia to hold special congress behind closed doors

11:14 • 28/02

Haykakan Zhamanak: Oskanian to declare plan to quit Prosperous Armenia

10:59 • 28/02

Armenian citizens hospitalized in Russia after crash

10:35 • 28/02

Serviceman reported killed in Nagorno-Karabakh

10:15 • 28/02

US avoids homeland security showdown

10:09 • 28/02

Russian opposition politician shot dead

22:30 • 27/02

Great public demand for opposition in Armenia - Hranush Kharatyan

21:22 • 27/02

Nagorno-Karabakh president receives ARF-D Bureau member

19:45 • 27/02

Meeting in parliament discusses preparations for Armenian Genocide centennial

19:23 • 27/02

Ericsson sues Apple for telecom patent infringement

19:05 • 27/02

Yerevan mayor hosts US ambassador to Armenia

18:30 • 27/02

Russia will hopefully control Azerbaijan’s ‘obsession with arms’ – Armenian defense minister

16:47 • 27/02

Harrison Ford to play in Blade Runner sequel

16:31 • 27/02

Eurovision 2015: Armenia’s fourth participants from Japan

16:25 • 27/02

Political analyst critical of Armenia’s authorities over refugees

16:12 • 27/02

Ukraine pays Russia’s Gazprom $15mn for 24 hours worth of gas

16:00 • 27/02

US spy chief James Clapper highlights cyber threats

15:48 • 27/02

Facebook launches new suicide alert

15:31 • 27/02

New reforms in effect to rule out fake scientific titles – education official

15:26 • 27/02

Further cooperation depends on Prosperous Armenia party – Levon Zurabyan

15:03 • 27/02

Identifying March 1 murderers requires will - Arakel Memirjyan

14:25 • 27/02

Sargsyan-Tsarukyan meeting best result – MP

14:18 • 27/02

Vodka consumption high in poorer countries

12:50 • 27/02

Apple facing second suit from patent firm

12:46 • 27/02

No propaganda bluff can cast shadow on the centuries-old relations of Jewish and Armenian peoples - William Weiner

12:38 • 27/02

Political crisis awaiting adequate evaluation in Armenia – opposition MP

11:53 • 27/02

Armenian cabinet proposes special parliament session

11:28 • 27/02

Armenians injured in Aleppo bomb blast

11:14 • 27/02

Armenian freestyle wrestlers on training session in Belarus

10:49 • 27/02

Lenovo victim of cyber-attack

10:35 • 27/02

US congressman urges Sec Kerry tor recognize Armenian Genocide

10:26 • 27/02

AirAsia posts first loss in two years

10:19 • 27/02

Turkey’s former president Gul not to run for parliament

10:01 • 27/02

Roadways trafficable in Armenia

09:48 • 27/02

Zhoghovurd: Russia seeks Armenia’s guarantees over Electric Networks’ debts

09:20 • 27/02

Zhoghovurd: Profit tax law on parliament’s special session agenda

09:03 • 27/02

Greece: Violence erupts in Athens ahead of debt talks

08:50 • 27/02

South Dakota recognizes Armenian Genocide

08:30 • 27/02

ISIS militants destroy antiquities in Iraq

08:17 • 27/02

US congresswoman commemorates anti-Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan

20:52 • 26/02

New turnover tax envisages economic impetus

20:06 • 26/02

No political opposition in Armenia – Azat Arshakyan

19:18 • 26/02

IBM targets $40 billion in cloud, other growth areas by 2018

18:31 • 26/02

World Armenian Youth Network holds flash mob in Budapest for Armenian Genocide recognition

18:07 • 26/02

ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Information Security Management System implemented by VivaCell-MTS

17:19 • 26/02

European Union to remain dependent on Russian gas for long – Armen Badalyan

16:33 • 26/02

Kessab again under sniper fire – Agos

16:29 • 26/02

20-ton humpback that's making waves: Whale appears to gesture with its fins as it breaches off the coast of Mexico

16:14 • 26/02

Azerbaijan saboteurs refuse to plead guilty

16:00 • 26/02

Six Nations 2015: Italy make six changes for Scotland game

15:49 • 26/02

Armenian agriculture minister hosts protesters angered by his remark

15:39 • 26/02

IS militant 'Jihadi John' named as Mohammed Emwazi from London

15:07 • 26/02

Main opposition force question number one in Armenia – Boris Navasardyan

14:21 • 26/02

Different times, different requirements – political engineer

13:50 • 26/02

Key figure in Hrant Dink murder detained in Ankara

13:34 • 26/02

Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, 97, funding epic feature film about Armenian Genocide

13:14 • 26/02

Armenian cabinet rejects amendments to turnover tax law

12:47 • 26/02

Armenian MP rules out gas price surge

12:20 • 26/02

Argentina dissolves intelligence body

12:07 • 26/02

Brit Awards 2015: Madonna falls off stage while singing

12:03 • 26/02

Rovers will race to Moon in first ever ‘Formula 1 kind of contest'

11:48 • 26/02

Victoria's Secrets losing key angels

11:31 • 26/02

Armenian veteran anchor honored with Culture Ministry Gold Medal

11:10 • 26/02

One-sided call for openness characteristic of Turkey – Armenian official

10:51 • 26/02

Samsung electronics freezes salaries in North Korea

10:33 • 26/02

Turkey keeps insisting on non-constructive preconditions – experts

09:24 • 26/02

Vardenis-Geghakar highway close

09:13 • 26/02

Morgan Stanley agrees to $2.6bn mortgage settlement

09:00 • 26/02

Saakashvili lobbies in US for arms to be sent to Ukraine

08:44 • 26/02

Haykakan Zhamanak: Armenian artists to request presidential pardon for Vardan Petrosyan

08:24 • 26/02

Jerusalem concert to remember Armenian Genocide centennial

08:16 • 26/02

US deepens tension with Israel