Opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has undemocratically wrested control of the Russian allied South Caucasus republic of Armenia. His rise to power took place via mob enforced extortion as he forced out the sitting Prime Minister, Serzh Sargsyan, by threatening the unicameral government with continued paralyzing general strikes on behalf of the nation’s youth, who were mobilized in a massive street protest across the small landlocked country, until his demands were met.
But how did it come to this, and where is it going? For a more complete understanding of the situation, let’s begin by taking a look at Armenia’s post Soviet political history, and that of its new Prime Minister.
In the fall of 1991, Armenia achieved its independence from the Soviet Union, electing the neo liberal Levon Ter-Petrosyan as its first President. The contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, overwhelmingly populated by ethnic Armenians, voted to secede from Azerbaijan to form an independent republic, which sparked a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan involving the deaths of 6,000 Armenians and roughly 30,000 Azeris.
Petrosyan, in an effort to alleviate Armenia’s economic stagnation, attempted to follow through on delivering the Nagorno-Karabakh territory back to Baku in exchange for open borders and economic integration with Ankara and Baku. However, Turkey and Azerbaijan have been traditional enemies of Armenia, conducting ethnic cleansing campaigns against the Armenians, the Turks in their genocide, conducted in 1915, and the Azeris in all the lands that they seized.
This integration prospect is a part of a larger NATO project of incorporating the post Soviet states, and, therefore, Petrosyan’s plot enjoyed the backing of the US State Department and the EU. This open treason against the Armenian people met with wide spread public disapproval, including his top government officials, leading eventually to his resignation.
After about ten years of relative silence on the political front, Petrosyan again entered the scene in a bid for the 2008 Presidential election, which he lost to his former Minister of Defense, at the time the ruling Prime Minister, with only 21% of the popular vote. Petrosyan contested the results of the election, organizing mass protests, which were put down with force by the government.
Here, Nikol Pashinyan played an organizing role in the uprising, in which conflicts between protesters and the police resulted in the deaths of ten Armenians. Pashinyan was sought out by the police for murder and mass disorder, and was arrested for his role, being sentenced to a seven year imprisonment term which was cut short by an amnesty granted in 2011.
Following the protests, Petrosyan consolidated numerous NGOs and political parties into what became known as the Armenian National Congress to become the primary Armenian opposition party, in which Pashinyan would assume a leading role, which became emboldened by the regime change efforts of the Arab Spring in organizing anti government riots.
Petrosyan led rallies against the Sargsyan government demanding his resignation and the release of political prisoners, which obtained Pashinyan’s liberty, but failed to result in a resignation by the Armenian President. Petrosyan again ran for the Presidential seat in 2013, but once again gained only a marginal percentage of the popular vote.
Through these Western backed NGOs and the second largest US embassy on planet Earth, with which the Armenian opposition was romantically involved, the West continued their efforts of psychological warfare which they were waging against the Armenian populace. The US Ambassador to Armenia capitalized on his role in advancing regime change efforts by brokering the sale of an Armenian Hydro to the Americans, leading to a steep increase in electricity prices in the former soviet republic.
Of course, the Western, partially Soros funded, NGOs and Pashinyan, were quick to point the finger at Russia for the utility price increase, as Russia was being blamed for pretty much everything that is wrong with the nation’s economy, and the present Sargsyan administration, of course, is deemed fully complicit in Russia’s apparently nefarious activities. These events led to massive rallies in the streets of Yerevan, in which Pashinyan again played an organizing role, deemed ‘electric Yerevan’.
It is worth pointing out that there are hundreds of NGOs operating on the ground in the tiny country of Armenia, which only boasts around three million people, many of which are aimed at erecting a western puppet government and in remaking the social environment to something that more resembles California, and away from its traditional Christian values.
These organizations have been lobbying hard to make these things come to pass, some of which have successfully pushed numerous bills before parliament to enforce Western values on the Armenian people. They also largely fund and operate the primary and secondary education systems of Armenia, and essentially all Armenian language television programming and media, hence, from childhood, Armenia’s youth has been sold on the concept that Russia is the big bad empire looking to enslave humanity, while the Armenian government is essentially Russian owned, lock, stock, and barrel, and the West wants to bring economic prosperity and freedom to the Armenians. The propaganda is so bad, that many will even assert that Turkey is more benevolent than Russia, while it was the Turks who carried out the Genocide a century ago.
As we look as the events that have transpired over the course of the past few weeks, one can note that the event was essentially a mobilization of the country’s youth, who, lacking real economic opportunity and any well rounded geopolitical comprehension, were all too ready to jump on board, as we noticed with the Electric Yerevan protests three years ago. From my personal experience from living in Armenia for the entirety of last year, I can testify to the reality of this situation, and having attended organizational meetings of some of these NGOs, and personal interaction with some of the Armenian youth. One doesn’t need to search in order to encounter these realities due to their prevalence. Some of my contacts in the Armenian diplomatic sphere indicated to me that the problem enjoys such dominion due to the fact that there really isn’t an effective counter weight to this Western propaganda.
Last month, Pashinyan began a march to Yerevan which picked up participation along the way eventually leading to tens of thousands of protesters paralyzing Yerevan, Vanadzor and other cities around the nation. The protests went on for almost two weeks before a meeting between President Sargsyan and Pashinyan, which yielded no results as Pashinyan refused to compromise one iota. Pashinyan was going to lead the Armenian government, and no other candidate, let alone Sargsyan, was going to get in his way.
Since then, Pashinyan’s ‘velvet revolution’ has resulted in the resignation of the sitting Prime Minister and his government and the election of Pashinyan as the new Armenian Prime Minister. While Pashinyan, who has been involved in opposition aiming at ousting Sargsyan from power for a decade, has finally attained the power that he sought, with a history of painting Russia as the villain and a corrupt Armenian government owned by Russian oligarchs, the question stands, which way will he go with this?
Many see hope in the fact that he plans to attend the Eurasian Economic Union summit next month and to meet with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with the fact that he admits that Armenia needs Russia as a military ally, but given his life story and participation in the events recorded here, there seems to be little real hope of that.
Is this a Western backed color revolution? It’s actually hard to cast doubt on that fact, given his connections with Soros funded NGOs who have as their purpose the remaking of Armenia into a NATO member state which looks somewhat less than fondly at Russia as the originator of Armenia’s woes.
With a perception that prosperity will surely be the Armenian inheritance of an integration into the Western political and economic bloc, which perception comes from anywhere but reality. It really can’t be doubted that this movement, led by a man with a history of hostility towards Russia and a long history of working in the interests of the US and its NGOs, is something that was hatched in Washington and delivered via the CIA’s vicarious operatives, the Open Society Foundation and its ilk.
The country’s post soviet poverty and Sargsyan’s perceived power grab are the grievances that were immediately capitalized upon in order to carry out this so called ‘velvet revolution’. Pashinyan says that he wants to maintain Armenia’s balancing act between the East and West, preserving ties and agreements with Russia while pursuing the partnership of the West, it should be noted that Saakashvili made a similar such promise upon assuming control of Georgia in a similar such incident.
Of course, he knows that he can’t be so bold as to immediately cut off ties with the Russians this early in the game, as Armenia is simply too dependent on Russia to make any real changes to Armenia’s foreign policy at this time, but that this represents his long term goal remains a matter to be seen.
One concern for the future is the nationalism that was put on display during the protests. We’ve watched a heavy nationalistic front take over the Ukraine and lead to regrettable outcomes, in like manner, one worry is that such a nationalism, if radicalized sufficiently, could reignite the conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh highlands, which could lead to an ethnic cleansing campaign being carried out by the Azeris together with a tough geopolitical choice for Moscow. So, the question stands, which way, Armenia?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.