Armenian Opposition Protest the Election Results

Opposition Protest in front of Government Building © Photo by Artur Papyan, Yerevan, 2008

Armenian opposition gathered more then 50 thousand supporters for a rally protesting the election results in front of Matenadaran today, closing the Mashtots avenue from Matenadaran till Nairi Cinema theater. Nikol Pashinyan, one of the most vocal opposition leaders, editor in-cheif of the Haykakan Zhamanak daily announced, that the opposition denounces the elections, and calls for a new round of elections. Presidential candidate, Former President Levon Ter-Petrossian in his speech characterized the elections as “shameful”. He further called Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s victory the “victory of the criminal world, ….victory of Mher from Tokhmakh, Mouk from Mkhchyan, Nemets Rubo, Dodi Gago, Lfik Samo…” , naming the oligarchs supporting the Prime Minister, who according to preliminary data, has won the elections by more then 52 %.

The opposition then took the protestant for a long march through Yerevan, passing Mashtots, Amiryan avenues, short stop at the Government building. The march then passed through the Sakharov square, Republic street, passing by State Security Service hedquarters, Koryun street, trans-passing the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), which was heavily guarded, surrounded by major police forces. While the initial plan was to gather in front of the CEC and demand, that they recognize the elections invalid, the amount of police force around them apparently changed the mind of opposition leaders, so they instead moved to the Freedom Square in front of the Opera House, where there is a large crowd waiting for further instructions from the opposition leaders while I’m writing these lines.

It is still unclear what the further course of their actions will be. The authorities are obviously very well prepared for every scenario. However, from what I could see so far, it doesn’t seem that the opposition are prepared for a direct confrontation. Let’s wait and see.

UPDATE: After I left the opposition leaders had sent off the crowd, telling them to come back for another rally at 15:00 next day. Looks more like an attempt to cool down the frustrated voters, then anything else. Levon Ter-Petrossian has said he has a plan. It is somewhat hard to believe that he does. Let’s wait and see, hopefully they won’t do anything stupid. Hopefully Ter-Petrossian remembers 1996, and understands, as the Armenian Election Monitor 2008 rightly points out, that this is only a Deja Vu of “Ter-Petrossian’s equally disputed re-election in 1996 when tanks and soldiers were sent out onto the streets of Yerevan”. If anything, Levon Ter-Petrossian can blame himself for what we have now in this country. It’s time HE pays the price.

Opposition Protests, marching on Mashtots Avenue © Photo by Artur Papyan, Yerevan, 2008

Opposition Protests , Marching © Photo by Artur Papyan, Yerevan, 2008

Opposition Protests, passing through Sakharov Square © Photo by Artur Papyan, Yerevan, 2008

Central Electoral Commission, Police forces well prepared © Photo by Artur Papyan, Yerevan, 2008

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. International wires report 15-20,000.

  2. I wonder when the ‘Bastille’ will be brought down…

  3. A non-related question. What does the road sign say in the first picture? It looks like it says ‘crossroad underground’.

  4. I was there with the AP, AFP and Deutche Welle journalips. I knew they’d write those figures. However, I’ll confirm once again the figures I’ve written.
    If it helps, I’m happy to state once again, that Levon is a busterd, and his election would be the worst scenario. But he had 50000 supporters there today.

  5. Worse than Serj, Dodi Gago, Lfik Samo and all the other notoriouse characters who as you arealier said “raped the concept of free and fair elections”.
    If you would like to live in a criminal country that’s you choice.
    But it is not my choice and thousands like me.
    Tomorrow there will be 70000 and day after 100000 and after that 150000……

  6. […] of us knew that was what it was intended as anyway as is customary after any election in Armenia. The Armenian Observer puts the number of those in attendance at 50,000 although it appeared much smaller than the estimated 40,000 who […]

  7. Haik
    i am curious to know, you call Armenia under kocharian a criminal country and living in it,under serge’s rule wouldnt be your choice. but what about those who left it during LTP’s presidency? what you say about them?
    i am not defending current regime but we always tend to go to extreme.
    i don’t think with current situation, anything would be different with levon or anyone els.
    this cant be done with old politics,with old faces.

  8. and its interesting why all the international media from afp,Reuters to bbc, made the numbers of the protests so small. just itar tass wrote around 200000 which compared to afp 20000 brings questions to mind.

  9. Armen,
    Is there a better alternative?
    He lead a winning war in a hard time when the whole Soviet empire collupsed. Was the situation in Georgia, Russia, Ukrain and any of the 12 out of 15 republics better? And many of them weren’t in a war and blockade.
    Anyway I will not continue, I am not here to defend LTP he is capable in doing so himself if required. Read his this years speeches and you will get a clear answer.
    What I am saying is we need a change and Levon promises to bring it. He will resine as soon as possible, he has no interest in power and politics.

  10. I am dissappointed with the results. in the next 5 years we will hear the same things from Diaspora and Sarkissian. Kocharian, Sarkissian and their entourage benefit from the current status quo. Therefore they will do whatever they can to keep the borders closed. Do you really happy to live in a country whose 80% of the borders were closed? I hope one day two neighbours, Armenia and Turkey can live with open borders.

  11. I predicted this very outcome from the beginning. Serge & Co. will do everything to remain in power and influence, or it’s bye bye for the Karabakh Boys. I don’t see how ANYONE can support Levon, at least anyone who lived there during his first term, like me. And IIRC, even the polls suggested this, so the notion that some irregularities here and there would have made a difference at all is misguided, at best.
    Let’s face it: the largest republic on Earth still can’t manage to have a voting season without problems, thus it’s entirely unrealistic to expect a developing country to do any better.
    It will take nothing short of a revolution to change Armenia. Politician promises, regardless of the parties, fade away quickly once they get into office and become in power. Our country is corrupt to the core and that element must be weeded out, not just trimmed every few years.
    And let’s face it: opening up borders in a situation with a corrupt government will still only benefit the people marginally and those in power greatly. As long as you have monopolies, bullying, and such a high concentration of power in the hands of so few, there will not be a great improvement in living standards even if borders were to be opened with Turkey & Azerbaijan. But I oppose such an action anyway.

  12. just itar tass wrote around 200000

    Itar-Tass put it at 10-12,000.
    Only A1 Plus and LTP’s team appear (or are both the same?) to have inflated the numbers (as usual) to the level of impossibility.

  13. 200,000 is impossible – I agree. And I have to note, that the crowd sizes changed several times. At the moment of LTP speaking, there was a huge crowd – around 50,000 people. During the march through Yerevan many people left – and I guess it was anywhere between 12-15,000. When the crowd reached Opera house, I was standing with the AP reporter, and I remember we both agreeing, that only 7,000 people had reached it. Later I called Gegham – and he said, that at 7,30 there were people coming back, and the crowd was swelling once more.

  14. Haik, the fact that I dislike the current authorities does not make me an authomatic supporter of Levon Ter-Petrossian. In fact – I’m only pro-democracy!

  15. Ok, Guys
    I red all the postings here, and noticed that everybody wants to be smart first, and neutral, second. Why? That is not going to work. You have to take side, even if you do not want. You have to take side even you do not have favorite candidate. Probably you will never have favorite candidate if you have all necessary information about the candidate. This is simple, you cannot like one person forever.
    I do not like Levon, but I am supporting him.
    I am not Levon supporter by default, but I support him now. I even was against him 1996 when I was young student, and I was one of those who attacked the Parliament.
    Why I know support him?
    Before answering I have to say that every smart person understands that during LTP’s campaign and rallies there were a lot of misinformation and exaggerations. So what? What is the problem? In any Western country elections are about misinformation and exaggeration. The only difference is Western countries have open and accessible media (note I am not saying free media, there is no free media anywhere), and they can balance that misinformation.
    People do not try to be smarter more than you are. Everybody is talking about the LTP. This elections are not about LTP. The elections are about Armenia, and Armenian People. If people are naive and follow LTP, or Arthur Baghdasaryan then what is wrong? World Peoples are always naive? REMEMBER, this is about people. and not about the candidates.
    I am glad that people can believe in somebody, or IN THEIR MOVEMENT. I like when people feel that they are force, and can make change. Of course this is a little naive that people can make change, but I like when people themself believe in that.
    Walk on the street of Armenia (I do not mean only now, or during election) and you will see no smile, no cheer, people are dissapointed in everything, people are undefended.
    So, what is wrong when they have hope now. I am saying HOPE. I am not claiming that LTP will do everything fine.
    Take the American Primaries example. This guy, Barack Obama. Who is he? Where this guy came from? What he wants? Nobody understands, but people see hope in OBAMA. I understand that it is very naive to belive that a Kenian-American Barrack Obama can change the bureaucratic isntitutionalized and even corrupt system of American government. But, people have hope.
    Second reason I support LTP, is that I do not believe in evolution (in political and economic terms). I believe in accelerated evolution. Accelerated evolution happens when there is a change in government. When new government comes, at least they try to bring new ideas. I know that new ideas will not realize instantaneously, and the new government members are not going to be angels, but when new people come to power it is already accelerated evolution. One government should not rule more than 10 years. It is absurd, it is even stupid and detrimental. If we have the change of ruling parties in every 10 years, we will have better results, than if the same party or people rule for 20-30 or 40 years. I am talking about the same corrupt governments. It is better to have corrupt governments to change every 10 years, than to have one for more than 10 years. This is my theory of accelerated evolution. This happened in America from the 1800s up to 1940-50s. All governments were corrupt and undemocratic, but they changed. Nowadays the US and European governments are more civilized but again corrupt governments.
    If Serge is president , then Armenia will go back and down. No serious changes can happen. Why? Becuase if Serje stays, we will be in the same situation that we were in 1980s, when Brejnev came to power.
    So, this is about change and hope of people. Although many will argue that LTP is not change, becuase he was in power, but I do not agree with it.
    Third reason I support Levon.
    Now he has new people. I do not talk about Demirtchyan, or Aram Sargsyan. I am talking about those young educated supporters that he has. He has many of them, although people see only couple of them (Nikol, Miqael). He has at least 200 new young activists that he relies on them, when he comes to power. This young guys are not blind followers of LTP and they are also not angels, but
    I think still there will be some people who will argue with my reasons for supporting LTP. It is your right, but try to be objective. Do not exaggerate your expectations from new president and try not to be perfectionists.
    More importantly, those who do not agree with me, and they still do not take side and try to be neutral, then guys you have problem.
    Take side, and after presidential elections again become neutral and even oppose the new president. But do not try to be neutral NOW, when you have to take side. Support either one, I do not care LTP or Serje, but bring arguments why you are supporting one or another.
    This is all, will be glad to reply to your postings.

  16. Do you know, what Robert Khocharyan, president of Armenia, were used Kharabakh Forces against Armenian nation ? You can find this even asking armenian solgers, who was there at that time, and you can find, what Mr. Khocharyan couldn’t use Armenian forces, and he decided to use Kharabakh spetial Forces. Don’t you think, what this man turns Kharabakh into the terrorists republic ?

  17. The style of writing is quite familiar to me. Have you written guest posts for other bloggers?

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