This week the so-called Armenian opposition announced a transition from spontaneous rallies to centralized and indefinite actions for the resignation of the current head of the Armenian government. On December 8, the ultimatum delivered by the “patriots” to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expired. The activists blocked several streets in Yerevan, and one of the groups stopped the work of the subway for several hours. As a result of street brawls, several dozen people were detained, and by evening the protests began to subside.
Street “patriots” and nationalist politicians are trying with enviable persistence to dramatize the post-war reality in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The de-occupation of the regions adjacent to Karabakh is presented as an “ecumenical exodus” of Armenians, and a “salvation front” is hastily formed in Armenia itself. Last week, opponents of Pashinyan, united in the “Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland”, nominated a single candidate – 74-year-old former first Prime Minister of Armenia Vazgen Manukyan.
It is important to note that radicals from the streets and personally the newly-minted “savior” of Armenia are opposed to early parliamentary elections, insisting on the need to remove Pashinyan bypassing the traditional democratic procedure. Pashinyan must either leave on his own or be pushed aside. According to Manukyan, the holding of parliamentary elections in the current conditions threatens the country with collapse, and it is extremely inappropriate to organize a party struggle.
The revenge-seekers are full of hope, like Pashinyan, to climb to the top of the Armenian power in the hands of the public. They believe that the final “pashinyanization” of Armenia has not yet taken place and therefore in many municipalities, as well as regional administrations, there will be those who will support the opposition. For two years in power, Pashinyan only managed to carry out a relative purge in the upper echelons, while at the local level there were enough small and medium officials who did not become part of Pashinyan’s “revolution.”
An impressive part of society has not yet got used to the current situation and is ready to support revanchists. Every day, a lot of videos are uploaded on Facebook, YouTube, and other Internet platforms, where newly-minted bloggers, politicians and ordinary citizens criticize Pashinyan. The pain of the loss of loved ones during the bloodshed is perceived as a favorable atmosphere for delivering targeted attacks on the most vulnerable positions of Pashinyan and his entourage. The world that is thin for revanchists can still be forgiven for Pashinyan, but the death of thousands of servicemen and the loss of Armenia’s significant military potential, after which the republic will not be able to talk about its military parity for at least several more years, will be remembered by Pashinyan until the end of his premiership.
Revanchists do not want to create any coalitions with the systemic opposition. At the moment, all well-known parliamentary parties are skeptical about cooperation with the Movement for the Salvation of the Fatherland, since no one wants to risk their own assets, especially since the future of the revanchist movement is uncertain. Those who have nothing to lose cooperate with the revanchists: the Fatherland party of the former head of the National Security Service of Armenia Artur Vanetsyan, and the Dashnaktsutyun ARF. Indirectly, the revanchists themselves are not inclined to cooperate with the “systemists”, since they do not enjoy impressive support from society, and the current popular solidarity with some parliamentary parties is situational. The public is ready to criticize Pashinyan for his senseless struggle against Kocharian or the leader of Prosperous Armenia Gagik Tsarukyan against the background of defeat in the war, but in reality, the fate of both Kocharyan and Tsarukyan is of little interest. In case of victory, revanchists are not in the mood to share their “success”.
Finally, the West financing Pashinyan has not yet decided whether to assist him further. The French government has found itself in the minority as a result of its vague and inconsistent support for separatism, the White House administration is changing in the US, the EU as a whole reacts coldly to the post-war events in the South Caucasus, preferring to throw its forces into the fight against the coronavirus epidemic. As for the Armenian diaspora, Pashinyan became an undesirable person for her, since he entered into an agreement with Azerbaijan, which means he lost to Turkey.