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Armenia’s Opposition, Blocked in Parliament, Raises Pressure in the Streets

May 1, 2018

Russia, which maintains a military base in Armenia, has called the protests an internal affair, with President Vladimir V. Putin urging all sides to resolve their differences legally. The Kremlin shows no signs of planning to interfere militarily, as it did after similar upheavals in Ukraine and Georgia.

On Tuesday, members of the Republican Party repeatedly belittled Mr. Pashinyan, a 42-year-old former journalist, as unfit for the job of prime minister. They suggested he did not have the experience required to run the military, with one saying mockingly that it required more than his standard attire of a camouflage T-shirt. Others clearly found galling the idea that he was trying to leverage the threat of further street protests to push them into voting for him as prime minister.

Many members called for further dialogue and negotiation with Mr. Pashinyan, so there were different theories about the strategy behind the stance of the Republican Party, whose members have held a virtual monopoly over political and economic power in Armenia since it declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Armenia’s Opposition, Blocked in Parliament, Raises Pressure in the StreetsArmenia’s Opposition, Blocked in Parliament, Raises Pressure in the Streets

First, Mr. Pashinyan most likely worried members of the elite with his vow to dismantle political and economic monopolies, prompting them to seek negotiated guarantees before making him prime minister next week. Rejecting him put them in a better bargaining position.

Second, party members might reject him again on Tuesday, figuring that even with their prospects damaged by the protests, they might as well take their chances in snap elections while they are still in power and in control of the electoral process.

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