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SARGSYAN LEFT, SARKISSIAN CAME, OPPOSITION ANNOUNCES REVOLUTION

The Azeri Times

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The day has come, which was awaited eagerly by the Armenian society. Today, on April 9, 2018, Armen Sarkissian took the oath and took office as the fourth President of Armenia. This happened at a special meeting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia.

Inauguration of Armen Sarkissian
Now, the Armenian government headed by Karen Karapetyan resigns, and until April 17, there will be no prime minister in Armenia. And the Armenian opposition wants to take advantage of this period of anarchy (the Armenian president now has virtually no powers, performing just representative functions), announcing the beginning of mass protest actions across the country.

For the citizens of Armenia, as for most experts, it is obvious that the next prime minister, i.e. the actual head of the country, will be the outgoinng President Serzh Sargsyan. He already shows his superiority, for after becoming prime minister, he will not change his presidential residence at Bagramyan, 26. Here, incidentally, before the inauguration, he received the elected Armenian President Armen Sarkissian.

Sargsyan expressed hope that Sarkissian would be able to achieve success in his new position, moreover, that he was ‘doomed to success.’ And Armen Sarkissian in reply confirmed that Sargsyan would be the prime minister, saying that he expected to work together in the future.

Armen Sarkissian and Serzh Sargsyan
As Armenian journalist and analyst Hayk Khalatyan writes in the Press Club of the Commonwealth, while the Armenian authorities are preparing the public for the fact that the incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan will continue to rule the country by changing the chair of the head of state for the chair of the head of the government (and without changing his residence at Bagramyan, 26), the Armenian opposition is preparing to prevent this through street protests.

Three political forces openly announced the struggle against Serzh Sargsyan’s premiership: ‘Front for the sake of the state of Armenia,’ youth initiative ‘Reject Serzh,’ as well as the party ‘Civil Contract’ included in the ‘Yelk’ bloc.

Oppositionists attribute their hopes to the fact that from April 9, when the new President Armen Sarkissian takes the oath of office, and until April 17, when the new government is formed, Serzh Sargsyan will not have formal authority over the executive power, in particular, the military and law-enforcement structures. And during these eight days with the help of mass protest actions it might be possible not to allow Sargsyan to take power again.

At the same time, all these political forces declare that they will seek their efforts exclusively by peaceful means. Leader of the ‘Civil Contract’ Nikol Pashinyan even put forward this as a precondition for cooperation with other political forces in this matter. However, not all political forces of Armenia are ready to give up violence. And allegedly because of doubts about the adherence of the ‘Front for the sake of the state of Armenia’ to the peaceful struggle, Nikol Pashinyan refused to cooperate with it.

The ‘Civil Contract’ itself came up with the initiative ‘My step.’ Starting from March 31, there is a walking tour of the cities in different regions of Armenia, which should end on April 13 at Freedom Square in Yerevan. Where, according to Nikol Pashinyan, a series of actions of civil disobedience, in particular, blocking of roads, encirclement of buildings, etc., will begin. Here he contradicts himself, because earlier it was said about the non-use of violence. ‘There will necessarily be a process of action. It will not be a rally and then all went home. Well, the probability of achieving the final result will depend on the presence of each person. That is, anyone who takes his step increases the probability of success,’ he stressed.

In turn, the front ‘For the sake of the state Armenia’ plans to hold rallies in the centre of Yerevan from 9 to 17 April. Representative of the front, leader of the Heritage Party Armen Martirosyan noted that although the opposition forces were united in the issue of preventing the further rule of Serzh Sargsyan, the agreement on joint actions is for the time being only between the initiatives ‘For the sake of the state of Armenia’ and ‘Reject Serzh.’

And the leader of the opposition Yerkir Zirani party, Zaruhi Postanjyan said that they welcome initiatives to hold street struggle, although they do not see the facets to unite with these forces. Therefore, during the rallies in Yerevan they will conduct their own protests in Gyumri, Vanadzor and Kapan.

But representatives of the Armenian National Congress report that they do not have plans for street struggle. And they believe that there are no more obstacles for Serzh Sargsyan’s premiership, and this is already a technical issue.

Of course, it is unlikely that the protests in Armenia will lead to a change in the political situation. The already announced tandem Sargsyan-Sarkissian satisfies economic groups in the country, and does not cause any special discontent outside Armenia as well. The Armenian authorities are not bothered by the fact that the Armenian population does not want to see Serzh Sargsyan in this tandem.

The change of the political model in Armenia did not change the nature of power. And, consequently, all the same threats remain for Armenia’s neighbours, and all the same sense of hopelessness for the population of the country.

Armenia

Armenia’s “revolution” faces its biggest test yet

The Azeri Times

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After winning local elections, Pashinyan is seeking to push his advantage. And the old guard may feel it has nothing left to lose.
Armenians poured into the streets of Yerevan on October 2, summoned by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who said that the country was at risk of a “counter-revolution” fomented by remnants of the regime he toppled in the spring. A day later, the situation remained in a standoff between Pashinyan and his opposition, and the crisis has posed the most dramatic challenge to Pashinyan’s “Velvet Revolution” in the five months he’s been in power.

So how did it come to this?

When Pashinyan was leading protests against the former administration in the spring, he made a four-part series of demands: the resignation of then-leader Serzh Sargsyan; the election of a new prime minister; a new election law; and new elections.

The first two were quickly implemented, with Pashinyan himself elected prime minister. The third is a work in progress, with some election reforms having already passed and others in the works. But it is the final step, the new parliamentary elections, that are supposed to cement the “revolution,” as Pashinyan calls it.

Until recently, Pashinyan and his team had suggested a wide range of times for the elections – from this fall to next spring – without setting a firm date. There were two primary, but contradictory, considerations, at play.

He wanted the elections as soon as possible, because his bloc in parliament held only nine out of 105 seats, and he was working with a tenuous coalition of allies of the old regime, including the Prosperous Armenia party, run by oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan, and the national stalwarts Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).

But he also needed time: His party was still small, and in the last parliamentary elections it got only seven percent of the vote. While Pashinyan is himself wildly popular in Armenia, and that representation would certainly multiply manifold, elections still represented a risk.

Yerevan municipal elections in late September, however, resulted in a landslide victoryfor Pashinyan’s “My Step” slate, which took 81 percent of the vote. Encouraged by the result, Pashinyan moved to push ahead the election date; the day after the Yerevan elections he said that the parliamentary vote should take place “very quickly.”

This apparently triggered the “counter-revolution.” Led by the formerly ruling Republican Party of Armenia, lawmakers pushed ahead a vote to change the law on what would happen if parliament were to be prevented from meeting. Under the old rules, that would trigger new elections; the new law would remove that provision. The goal seemed to be to neutralize the threat of street protests, which could conceivably be deployed to block parliament, and which remain the most potent weapon in Pashinyan’s arsenal.

Most remarkably, the Republicans were joined by the MPs from Prosperous Armenia and the ARF. Pashinyan responded by firing all the ministers from those two parties, but it remains unclear why those parties chose this moment to turn against Pashinyan and again throw their lots in with the Republicans.

One factor could have been the prospect of their looming political death: Prosperous Armenia, which had been mooted as a potential spoiler for Pashinyan due to Tsarukyan’s popularity among many poor, rural Armenians, got only 7 percent in the Yerevan elections. The ARF did even worse, garnering less than 2 percent.

Whatever the case, Pashinyan now must rely again on mass people power. Pashinyan estimated that 10,000 people came out to parliament to support him on October 2, and if there is a genuine prospect of a “counter-revolution” it is not difficult to imagine crowds far greater than that taking to the streets again. While hints of cynicism are beginning to creep into Armenian political conversations, and there is some chance of protest fatigue, Pashinyan still remains very popular. Maybe more importantly, the old regime remains deeply hated, and any prospect of their return will certainly be vigorously opposed.

Pashinyan has promised to resign, which would force new elections in the parliament for a prime minister. If those fail, they would trigger new elections. Pashinyan appears to be playing a sort of political chicken, gambling that his opponents will be unable to muster support for an opposition candidate. The smart money would seem to favor him. But members of the old regime, along with their once and again allies, may see no need to back down, no matter the degree of public pressure. And they still retain many levers of power, including large swaths of the bureaucracy and at least tacit support from Moscow.

This may be the old regime’s last, desperate attempt to reverse their losses. Their odds may be slim, but they may feel they have nothing left to lose.

Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.

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Armenia

Armenia provocation: Villages in Tovuz shelled

The Azeri Times

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Armenia committed provocation against civilians on the front line, informs the press-service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry.

Starting from the evening of September 14 until the morning of September 15, the units of the Armenian armed forces, using weapons of different calibre, including artillery mount, committed provocation on Tovuz, Terter and Aghdam directions.

The enemy, in particular, subjected to fire the positions of the Azerbaijan Army, stationed in the direction of the villages of Munjuglu, Kokhanebi, Asrik Jirdakhan and Garalar of Tovuz region, as well as civilians living in these villages.

There are no casualties among servicemen and the population of Azerbaijan. Damage has been caused to several houses, property of the population and civil infrastructure.

The implementation of such provocative actions by Armenian side on the eve of the significant events and holidays celebrated in Azerbaijan is purposeful.

The Ministry of Defence reports that as a result of urgent retaliatory actions undertaken by the units of the Azerbaijan Army, the enemy’s activity was suppressed. The military-political leadership of Armenia bears all responsibility for the destruction and losses of the enemy.

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Armenia

Azerbaijani Army prepares for offensive in Karabakh (Large-scale exercises)

The Azeri Times

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In accordance with the plan approved by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, large-scale operational-tactical exercises with the participation of various military branches of troops, Army Corpses, and formations of the Azerbaijan Army will be held under the supervision of the Minister of Defence, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov from 17th to 22nd of September.

As informs the press-service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry. the exercises will involve more than 20,000 military personnel, more than 200 tanks and other armoured vehicles, more than 120 rocket and artillery mounts of different calibre, multiple launch rocket systems, and mortars, up to 10 fighter jets and bomber aircraft, up to 20 army aviation units for various purposes.

In the course of the exercises, the issues of the tank breakthrough of the enemy’s echeloned defence in several directions, the crushing defeat of armed groups and forward units of Armenia in the territory of Karabakh will be worked out, tasks will be fulfilled for the liberation of the occupied territories by the destruction of military and strategic facilities located on the territory of the enemy by rocket-artillery and air strikes.

The military personnel’s possession skills of the military equipment and weapons that have been adopted into the armament of the Azerbaijan Army over the past year will also be checked.

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