Armenia: Egypt events energizing opposition in Yerevan

00:49 • 03.02.11

By Marianna Grigoryan

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 -

LATEST NEWSAll Today news

17:30 • 30/07

Prostate cancer: Five types 'found'

17:12 • 30/07

US economic growth picks up to 2.3%

16:40 • 30/07

Mullah Omar: Taliban appoints Mullah Akhtar Mansour successor

16:06 • 30/07

Military balance between Armenia, Azerbaijan much more favorable – Shavarsh Kocharyan

15:34 • 30/07

Staffless pay-what-you-will bookstore in China actually works

15:02 • 30/07

Ukrainian pilot Savchenko in court for pre-trial hearing

14:46 • 30/07

Great potential for new stage in Nagorno-Karabakh peace process – David Shahnazaryan

14:16 • 30/07

Ardshinbank successfully prices its debut offering of US $100m Eurobond due 2020

13:58 • 30/07

Three Turkish troops killed in ambush with terrorists

13:42 • 30/07

Armenia’s SME policy needs complete revision – RUEA chairman

12:30 • 30/07

Nairit Plant employees’ wages to be paid off

12:04 • 30/07

Sony's net profit more than triples in second quarter

11:48 • 30/07

Ai Weiwei denied six-month UK visa

11:32 • 30/07

PKK blamed for fatal double shooting in Turkey's east

11:10 • 30/07

Haykakan Zhamanak: Decline on Armenia’s real estate market

10:50 • 30/07

Fifa: Chung Mong-joon wants to replace Sepp Blatter as president

10:30 • 30/07

Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army neutralizes enemy fire

10:14 • 30/07

Haykakan Zhamanak: Monopolies: higher profits, lower taxes

09:46 • 30/07

US Department of State warns of threat of terrorist actions against U.S. citizens

09:32 • 30/07

Samsung Electronics sees profit fall 8% in the second quarter

09:16 • 30/07

Facebook now used by half of world's online users

09:02 • 30/07

Maradona accuses ex-wife Claudia Villafane of $9m theft

08:46 • 30/07

MH370 search: Experts investigate Indian Ocean wreckage

17:35 • 29/07

Greek PM warns hardliners with snap vote to approve reforms

17:14 • 29/07

IMF warns Turkey of low net int’l reserves, high short-term debt stocks

16:58 • 29/07

Several thousand Azerbaijanis in Islamic State ranks – Ruben Safrastyan

16:10 • 29/07

Developed economy in everyone’s interests – Suren Krmoyan

15:50 • 29/07

Fifa: Michel Platini confirms he will stand for presidency

15:30 • 29/07

Moss viewing – a strange yet increasingly popular Japanese pastime

15:12 • 29/07

Armenia Development Fund programs highlight human resources – Tigran Karapetyan

14:58 • 29/07

VW reports profit rise but warns of 'challenges' ahead

14:42 • 29/07

Azerbaijani media reports false – NKR defense office

14:32 • 29/07

Tokyo Games chief apologizes for stadium fiasco

14:12 • 29/07

Taliban leader Mullah Omar 'is dead'

13:50 • 29/07

New Constitution starting point for leading Armenia to reforms – Samvel Farmanyan

12:56 • 29/07

Alibaba cloud unit sets sights on Amazon in $1 billion global push

12:26 • 29/07

Nagorno-Karabakh deputy FM receives ICRC reps

12:12 • 29/07

Zhamanak: Armenia’s defense office starts extensive consultations

11:50 • 29/07

Channel Tunnel migrant crisis: Man dies as 1,500 try to enter

11:34 • 29/07

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

11:20 • 29/07

U.S. Embassy hosts conference on issues related to protection of children

11:06 • 29/07

Zhoghovurd: One more candidate for post of minister of justice

10:50 • 29/07

US, Turkey weigh which Syrian rebels to support in border area

10:36 • 29/07

Erdogan is pursuing his self-interests, instead of fighting ISIS terrorists

10:10 • 29/07

Haykakan Zhamanak: Two reasons for delay in appointment of Armenia’s new minister of justice

09:50 • 29/07

Hovik Abrahamyan holds farewell meeting with Head of EU Delegation to Armenia

09:36 • 29/07

Toronto Film Festival 2015: Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore aim for double Oscar success

09:20 • 29/07

Windows 10 launch is a 'new era', says Microsoft boss

09:06 • 29/07

Malik Ishaq Pakistan Sunni militant chief killed

08:50 • 29/07

Australia encouraged by support for MH17 crash tribunal

18:30 • 28/07

Long-lasting peace on basis of Madrid principles impossible – Arman Melikyan

16:22 • 28/07

Volkswagen overtakes Toyota in sales

16:00 • 28/07

Google unlinking Google+ from YouTube

15:42 • 28/07

NATO declares ’strong solidarity’ with Turkey amid attacks

15:25 • 28/07

World Bank proposes shutdown of Nairit plant

14:46 • 28/07

New Constitution to allow Public Council work within law - Vazgen Manukyan

14:20 • 28/07

De Niro to direct Bronx Tale musical

14:02 • 28/07

Fifa: Michel Platini to announce presidency bid

13:46 • 28/07

No steps back in fight against terrorism - Erdoğan

13:30 • 28/07

Full package of constitutional must be available – Aghasi Arshakyan

13:18 • 28/07

Libya trial: Gaddafi son sentenced to death over war crimes

13:02 • 28/07

Killer robots: Tech experts warn against AI arms race

12:42 • 28/07

Turkey unlikely to turn into target for Islamic State – Ruben Melkonyan

12:17 • 28/07

APJ Abdul Kalam, India's former president, dies

11:52 • 28/07

UK property no safe haven for 'dirty money' – British premier

11:24 • 28/07

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

11:08 • 28/07

Zhamanak: New political party may be founded in Armenia

10:50 • 28/07

Blast suspends transport of gas on Iran-Turkey pipeline

10:36 • 28/07

Zhamanak: Businessmen MPs of Armenia’s ruling party in panic

10:22 • 28/07

Armenia Maintains “Tier 1” Status in the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report

09:42 • 28/07

Haykakan Zhamanak: Russian ruble reaches lowest level

09:28 • 28/07

Out of this world! Stunning pictures capture moment skydivers appear to soar over Earth after jumping from plane at 13,000ft

09:12 • 28/07

Autonomous trucks: Daimler seeks licence for road tests

08:58 • 28/07

Obama to become first US leader to address African Union

08:42 • 28/07

Apple fake factory 'caught in China'

08:28 • 28/07

South Korea declares 'de facto end' to Mers virus

17:35 • 27/07

Fitch affirms Armenia at 'B+'

17:20 • 27/07

Armenia Public Services Regulatory Commission to invite consulting companies to study advisability of electricity price rise

16:40 • 27/07

Documentary about Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence to premiere at Venice Film Festival

15:54 • 27/07

Facebook to scale up free mobile Internet service to boost usage

15:36 • 27/07

Robert Rauschenberg and Paul Nash among Tate 2016 shows

15:14 • 27/07

Italian artist turns his palm into mind-boggling optical Illusions

14:50 • 27/07

Sergio Romero: Manchester United sign Argentina goalkeeper

13:48 • 27/07

Armenian Parliament speaker holds farewell meeting with Belarusian ambassador

13:24 • 27/07

Azerbaijan unprepared for war in either military or economic terms – Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan

12:06 • 27/07

Turkey detains ISIL suspects in new police sweep

11:50 • 27/07

Social packages fail to serve their purpose – Babken Pipoyan

11:34 • 27/07

Afghanistan: Wedding shootout in Baghlan province 'kills 20 people'

11:05 • 27/07

China shares tumble more than 5%

10:36 • 27/07

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

10:16 • 27/07

Monster Hunt movie sets China box office record

09:58 • 27/07

Obama in Ethiopia for key talks with regional leaders

09:44 • 27/07

Nigeria Boko Haram crisis: Child bomber hits Damaturu

09:28 • 27/07

Mexico missing students: Search uncovers 60 mass graves

09:12 • 27/07

UBS bank sees 53% jump in net profit

08:56 • 27/07

Turkish air strikes 'changing regional game', says PM

08:40 • 27/07

Whitney Houston daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown dies aged 22

16:05 • 25/07

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs have to step up efforts to reduce border tensions – Aghasi Yenokyan

15:30 • 25/07

Border tensions: Azerbaijani army reports one killed, eight wounded

15:16 • 25/07

Turkey blocks Kurdish websites, Twitter and Facebook slowed down