All through the day yesterday the State propaganda machine was showing the rare crowd of opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrossian’s supporters in front of the Opera house, describing them as alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless beggars, armed criminals. A scare campaign was also in progress – showing arrests of more Ter-Petrossian’s supporters: Petros Makeyan, Suren Surenyants, Khachatur Suqiasyan’s (Grzo) bodyguards. Meanwhile, demonstrations in various regions, staged in support of government candidate, prime minister Serzh Sargsyan were displayed. H1 Public TV of Armenia was openly inviting everyone to the Republic Square in Yerevan today, to attend the big rally in support of the “newly elected president” Serzh Sargsyan. One thing they miscalculated, however, is the fact, that the authorities have been running out of their administrative levers by now, and that people don’t trust the Public TV reports anymore. Every word public TV said yesterday – contributed to Ter-Petrossian’s authority. People don’t like being treated like sheep.
Today there were two rallies in Yerevan – the endless rally started by the opposition since February 20th in the highly symbolic Freedom Square, in front of the Opera house, and the rally in support of government candidate Serzh Sargsyan, who claims victory at the elections. While people have been warned against attending the rally at the Freedom Square, which the authorities say is unsanctioned, the rally at the Republic square was organized using the whole administrative capacity of the authorities: people were herded and brought in from the regions, state institutions, schools, universities, ministeries. Quite expectedly, people assembled at the Serzh Sargsyan rally at the Republic square, after days of information blockade by the state propaganda machine and in many cases forced to attend the Serzh Sargsyan rally, at some point during the rally, when music pop-star Sirusho was singing, started walking towards the Freedom square rally, where Ter-Petrossian supporters were protesting. As a result – the number of Ter-Petrossian rally participants swelled extraordinarily. In fact, I’ve never seen such a large crowd in my life.
People have awakened, and Serzh Sargsyan, even if he manages to tackle this somehow, will never be a president with real power, authority and legitimacy. Even if Ter-Petrossian doesn’t become president (and I still see his chances as rather vague), he has already won.
This evening president Kocharyan is scheduled to speak on Armenian TV. I expect him to declare a state of emergency, call in the army, perhaps institute curfew and start mass arrests.