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

09:46 • 31/08

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

09:26 • 31/08

Zika: Singapore urges tests for pregnant women with symptoms

09:13 • 31/08

Google to expand ride-sharing service in San Francisco

08:50 • 31/08

Islamic State: Abu Muhammad al-Adnani 'killed in Aleppo'

17:26 • 30/08

Gene Wilder dead: How the actor came up with his iconic Willy Wonka entrance and costume

17:11 • 30/08

Russian man offers to take part in first human head transplant

16:54 • 30/08

Criminal investigation into beating of opposition Karabakh MP discontinued

16:28 • 30/08

TTIP in further doubt as Hollande questions timing

16:06 • 30/08

U.N. rights office urges French towns to repeal burkini bans

15:40 • 30/08

Mitsubishi to stop selling eight models in fuel scandal

15:22 • 30/08

Somalia truck bomb targets Mogadishu's SYL Hotel

14:44 • 30/08

Apple ordered to pay up to €13bn after EU rules Ireland broke state aid laws

14:29 • 30/08

Traffic accidents, death toll down in Armenia

13:50 • 30/08

Sri Lankan teenager hacks president's website to try to get exams delayed

13:30 • 30/08

Euro court fines Turkey over baby’s death

13:15 • 30/08

Nagorno-Karabakh president attends opening of new gym in Stepanakert

13:00 • 30/08

Japanese unemployment rate hits two-decade low

12:47 • 30/08

Armenian national football team leaves for Czech Republic

12:15 • 30/08

Nagorno-Karabakh independent state irrespective of being recognized by Georgia - MP

11:50 • 30/08

Thailand's first halal hotel hopes to help boost Muslim arrivals

11:35 • 30/08

Obama to meet with Turkey's Erdogan in China on Sept 4

11:20 • 30/08

Zhoghovurd: Preparations for sale of Yerevan heat station under way

10:38 • 30/08

Putin's Japan visit could be firmed up at Abe meeting

10:20 • 30/08

Blast at Chinese embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

10:05 • 30/08

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

09:52 • 30/08

Oil prices rise as dollar comes off two-week high

09:39 • 30/08

Libyan forces say Islamic State beaten back in Sirte

09:07 • 30/08

Explosion near Chinese embassy in Bishkek

08:55 • 30/08

Apple facing record bill for Irish tax

17:20 • 29/08

Canine catwalk: Homeless dogs pose in outlandish costumes in a bid to attract new owners

17:05 • 29/08

Russia seeks to counterbalance Iran-West relations with Iran-EEU relations – Armen Vardanyan

16:46 • 29/08

Ucom’s mobile Internet modem available with new U!Fi 3500 regional tariff plan

16:33 • 29/08

‘Let’s keep children in families’ program gives one more family chance for stable income provision

16:00 • 29/08

Turkey to start talks with EU to update Customs Union deal by 2017

15:47 • 29/08

Nagorno-Karabakh not priority for either the United States or Russia – expert

15:18 • 29/08

German Incirlik visit depends on stance on 'genocide' vote: Turkish minister

15:05 • 29/08

Brazil's Dilma Rousseff to testify at impeachment trial

14:52 • 29/08

US says clashes between Turkish forces and opposition in Syria ‘unacceptable’

14:39 • 29/08

Suicide bomber kills 54 in Yemen attack: health ministry

14:26 • 29/08

William Saroyan's 108th birthday to be celebrated at Tumanyan Park

14:13 • 29/08

Uzbek leader in stable condition after brain hemorrhage: daughter

14:00 • 29/08

Brussels crime lab fire: Five held over blaze 'started to destroy evidence'

13:47 • 29/08

Nagorno-Karabakh on way to independence – Tevan Poghosyan

13:02 • 29/08

Bright Armenia party take active part in local elections

12:40 • 29/08

Bookings down for terror-hit tourist countries

12:27 • 29/08

Suicide bomber kills at least 15 at wedding party in southern Iraq

11:54 • 29/08

Death toll in Yemen suicide bombing rises to at least 45: MSF

11:29 • 29/08

Turkey to fight ISIL, Syrian Kurdish militia with 'same determination': Erdoğan

11:16 • 29/08

Constitutional reforms in Azerbaijan: Ilham Aliyev seeks khanate – Armenian expert

10:08 • 29/08

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

09:52 • 29/08

Roche says U.S. FDA issues Emergency Use Authorization for Zika test

09:39 • 29/08

Bomb blast at Brussels police building

09:26 • 29/08

Singapore reports more than 40 local Zika transmissions

09:13 • 29/08

Police investigating unconfirmed reports of shots fired at Los Angeles airport

09:00 • 29/08

Paris restaurant owner refuses to serve hijab-wearing women as 'terrorists are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists'

08:47 • 29/08

Nasa ends year-long Mars simulation on Hawaii

08:34 • 29/08

Colombia Farc rebels announce definitive ceasefire

15:35 • 27/08

Oops! Britney Spears does it again in latest pop culture comeback

15:20 • 27/08

Japan's Abe pledges $30 billion for Africa over next three years

14:48 • 27/08

Former presidential advisor arrested over Gülenist links

14:31 • 27/08

South Korea, Japan to start talks on new fx swap agreement

14:18 • 27/08

Donald Trump doctor admits writing health note in five minutes

14:05 • 27/08

Enthusiastic people meet Armenian champions in Gyumri (pictures, video)

13:22 • 27/08

Fire kills at least 16 in Moscow printing works

12:33 • 27/08

Hayots Ashharh: Free trade zone with Iran promising

11:50 • 27/08

U.S. and Russia fail to close deal on ending violence in Syria

11:37 • 27/08

World's largest marine reserve created off Hawaii

11:18 • 27/08

Who are you calling funny looking?

11:03 • 27/08

Thousands hail Armenian athletes in Yerevan

10:42 • 27/08

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

10:29 • 27/08

U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea missile launches

10:16 • 27/08

Heartbreaking picture of dog who won't leave master's coffin after Italy earthquake

10:03 • 27/08

Italy earthquake: Day of national mourning for victims

09:50 • 27/08

Bangladesh 'cafe attack planner killed' in police raid

17:50 • 26/08

Matt Damon climbs up Forbes' Hollywood rich list

17:39 • 26/08

Mind-controlled nanobots could release drugs inside your brain: Tiny machines may help treat depression and epilepsy

17:26 • 26/08

Mazda recalling 190,000 CX-7 vehicles in U.S.

17:13 • 26/08

Russia to keep Armenia within its orbit - Alexey Portanskiy

16:07 • 26/08

EU should drop Russia sanctions, Slovak PM says after meeting Putin

15:52 • 26/08

UWC Dilijan College hosts Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2016

15:28 • 26/08

Not an inch of land to be ceded – Armenian MP

14:10 • 26/08

Turkish PM declares 'total war' against terrorism after Cizre attack

13:38 • 26/08

Recent events in Armenia cause purge – Heritage party reps

13:00 • 26/08

Belgians are hunting books, instead of Pokemon

12:43 • 26/08

Kerry, Lavrov talks to try to finalize details of cooperation on Syria

12:26 • 26/08

Turkey, Russia military talks postponed upon Moscow’s call

11:56 • 26/08

Hungary to build second fence on Serbian border to keep out migrants

11:43 • 26/08

Lotte vice chairman Lee In-won found dead

11:28 • 26/08

Death toll in Somalia beach restaurant attack rises to 10

11:01 • 26/08

Azerbaijan continues ceasefire violations

10:51 • 26/08

Italy quake death toll rises to 267; nearly 400 hospitalized

10:38 • 26/08

Venice Commission enthusiastic about previous agreements on draft electoral code – opinions

09:34 • 26/08

Car bomb kills at least eight at police headquarters in Turkey

09:21 • 26/08

Two more arrested in Hrant Dink case

09:08 • 26/08

Italy quake: Emergency declared as hopes for more survivors fade

08:51 • 26/08

Bolivia minister killed by protesting miners

20:37 • 25/08

Converse Bank joins The KYC Registry

18:10 • 25/08

Putin calls ban on Russian Paralympic team 'immoral'

17:55 • 25/08

Iraqi parliament votes to dismiss defense minister: state TV

17:40 • 25/08

Brazil's Senate opens Rousseff's impeachment trial