By Paul Goble
Russian politicians and analysts have comforted themselves by saying that what has occurred in Armenia is “not a revolution but an internal political crisis” that with the election of Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister is on its way to a resolution (kavkazoved.info/news/2018/05/10/armenia-ne-revoljucia-no-vnutripoliticheskij-krizis.html).
But two events today cast doubt on that view. On the one hand, the Armenian street has held a mass demonstration that has forced the mayor of Yerevan, someone long despised as a representative of the ancien regime of Serzh Sarsyan to defer to the crowd and leave office (ria.ru/analytics/20180517/1520731695.html).
And on the other hand, Pashinyan has appealed to Armenians to stop trying to solve their political problems via mass protests. “We all need a pause,” he said, “in order to peacefully come together for discussion and a resolution of problems. We will lose everything if we try to solve everything all at once” (newsru.com/world/17may2018/pashinyan.html).
If Armenians listen to Pashinyan who himself came to power as a result of mass demonstrations, the situation in their country may calm down; but if they don’t, there is a real danger that Moscow could decide either directly or via its various supporters in Yerevan to try to crush what appears to be on the cusp of a revolution.
At the very least, this increases the likelihood that those who oppose the broader agenda Pashinyan represents may try to exacerbate the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan to try to force Yerevan political leaders and the population back into line. If that can be avoided, Armenia may be about to change fundamentally, something all parties should stop and consider.
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