Random Feelings After a Sleepless Night With Protesters

I really really want to sleep… don’t feel like working – with so many exciting things going on… I spent the night going back and forth from Opera house to a nearby cafe, then to home and back, then to my office and back…
…and all that time I couldn’t help feeling guilty and responsible for everything that’s happening now. We all are responsible, aren’t we? But some are brave enough to stand up and fight, some, like me – look for excuses in not liking Levon or supporting Vahan – and some openly admit they are being raped by Serzh, and they even like it.
I wonder, how can Levon not feel responsible for all these people? And if he’s feeling responsible, how hard must it be to cope with all this weight? Anyways – I’m not here for Levon. I’m here, because I deeply sympathize with these people. I always feel emotionally attached to people who sincerely believe in their cause. And I feel guilty for not supporting Levon – but, I just can’t! I dislike him. I don’t think he has ever done anything right! And I know, this feeling of guilt is only the result of LTP’s PR machine working on my consciousness.
Now I just really want to sleep. What was I doing out there all night anyway?
I’m really pissed off with the low amount of votes ARF-Dashnaktsutyun got. It can’t be that low! I’m sure Serzh stole at least half of ARF-Dashnaktsutyun votes. But “our Vahan” is silent, must have made a deal. Perhaps he’ll soon own a new restaurant in the center of Yerevan or two more casinos in the suburbs? That’s how things are done over here… Vazgen is silent. Messiah Geghamyan is also silent, Artur is showing signs of life, but only sending Heghine Bisharyan to the rally. Too arrogant to come himself? Well – he learned from the best, he learned from Levon, didn’t he?

…looking at these people struggling to keep the fires burning and craving for their little share of warmth, I wonder – what are they really trying to prove? It seems, they’re just demonstrating how fed up they are with the current government. There’s perhaps 1500 people left now. Once in a while Nikol or Levon will show up on the stage, and everyone starts shouting – “Levon, Levon!”. Then they’ll go – “Serzhik, heratsir!”. The child in me urges me to join in, shouting “Levon, heratsir! Serzhik, heratsir! Go to hell, all of you, dirty politicians!”. “Levon, Levon!” the crowd roars again, with fireworks shot out to the dark sky. They see him as the “only hope to remove the regime”, they tell me. Well – in every country one can find at least 1500 people who are as much fed up with the government. So is that it?
These people here – they just want a king, a lot of them. They don’t care for democracy, or electoral fraud. They just want the “daddy” to come and put things right. Then there are some really bright individuals, who sincerely hope for justice and democracy… and there are a bunch of young airheads – rock musicians, their fans… these lot are enjoying themselves. There’s fires, there’s free food that Khachatur Suqiasyan (Grzo) bought from SAS Supermarket. Ironically, a well informed source tells me, that the young employees of the Supermarket were bussed around town, entering different polling stations and voting. Some of them have voted 6-7 times my source tells me. (NOTE: There has been an official rejection of this claim from SAS Supermarket)
OK. Enough of sick thoughts. I’m going sleeping…

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. […] The Armenian Observer details his thoughts after spending a night with a few thousand Ter-Petrossian supporters camped out on Yerevan’s Liberty Square following Tuesday’s disputed presidential election in Armenia. These people here – they just want a king, a lot of them. They don’t care for democracy, or electoral fraud. They just want the “daddy” to come and put things right. Then there are some really bright individuals, who sincerely hope for justice and democracy… and there are a bunch of young airheads – rock musicians, their fans… these lot are enjoying themselves. There’s fires, there’s free food that Khachatur Sluqiasyan (Grzo) bought from SAS Supermarket. Ironically, a well informed source tells me, that the young employees of the Supermarket were bussed around town, entering different polling stations and voting. Some of them have voted 30 or 40 times my source tells me. […]

  2. […] Armenian Observer details his thoughts after spending a night with a few thousand Ter-Petrossian supporters camped out… following Tuesday's disputed presidential election in Armenia. Share […]

  3. I wish I was there. I miss the revolutionary fervor of 1988-89.

  4. Well done,Artur, brilliant piece, I feel really sorry for all these people myself. You remember my thoughts on LTP’s possible foregin support,don’t you. Now I’m just wondering how we all believed he had an ace in his sleeve, he was going to pull out in a moment like this. Where is it then, what is he waiting for? He knew he wasn’t going to win, what the hell did he count on????????????????

  5. Archuk, Ter-Petrossian went so far he could never back down. However, on the other hand, who is to say that no help from abroad comes when it seems as though they have a choice (and for the West, a Karabakh solution and the opening of the Armenian-Turkish border is big enough a plus for them to support Levon)? Moreover, he still appears to be relying on high-profile defections within the government.
    Remember, some of the biggest thugs, crooks and anti-democratic figures in Armenia today started under him. He also has old friends in the Constitutional Court who helped him legitimize the suspect 1996 election and which are still there. Actually, if they were to switch, he has quite a few local aces to pull out and I’m sure that for the West and Russia it doesn’t matter whether they support Serge or Levon in power if either agrees to do their bidding.
    Incidentally, part of the problem in working out what is going on is a skillful use of propaganda and misinformation disseminated by Ter-Petrossian’s team. In fact, it’s hard to tell what’s true or not, and I think he is relying on this to destabilize the situation in the country and overthrow the system that has kept some order. Interestingly, this approach works well with the population and the local psyche which tends to believe rumors and exaggerations rather than facts.
    Take the myth of the buses and metros not running in Yerevan, for example, or the 300,000 quoted participants in today’s demonstration when it is physically impossible even to get 50,000 + in Liberty Square or 100,000 if you include the area that is actually that is now occupied by cafes. Still, it is a movement and if the core point is to overturn a period of undemocratic elections which ironically Ter-Petrossian actually started, then it’s hard to criticize it.
    Ultimately, Ter-Petrossian is trying to assemble a critical mass — at least 100,000 on the streets — which he does no yet have. However, if anyone can achieve that, I suppose it is him and if he wins the battle between his minority in society and their minority with the rest of the population indifferent, I suppose that’s the post-Soviet space for you. What will be will be, I suppose, and both sides can be credited so far for at least not resorting to violence. In a sense, that represents some progress democratically in Armenia and is being exploited by Ter-Petrossian.
    However, as one person remarked to me today, it should not be forgotten that Serge is not the president yet. Kocharian is, and likely willing and able to act whenever necessary. Perhaps we shouldn’t forget that although again, I have to repeat that I hope my biggest fear doesn’t come true. That is, that things will turn violent.

  6. The word “democracy” from the mouth of LTP sounds very cynical. If you take into account the fact that he rigged elections, arrested and jailed opposition, had clans control lucrative parts of economy, and made people’s life miserable. Everything he is saying now is not worth a penny. Unfortunately the “government pie” is not big enough for everyone. And all the cheap talk about democracy by LTP is nothing more but an attempt to get closer to “pie” again. Of course it also creates a great opportunity for foreign powers to change the geo-political situation in the region to better suited their national interests.

  7. Levon is playing with mass instincts of incertainty, fear and defection. It means he applies the same means that the government does. He attacts attention with sensations and inflames the lowest instincts of the crowd. This is very dangerous. The people that join him are some of the lowest scum I know.

  8. Onnik, if I understand you correctly, you said that propaganda and misinformation is hard to criticize if used by a movement whose core point is to overturn a period of undemocratic elections. Let me disagree with you. Deliberate misleading of the public through blatant lies with the aim of returning to power is low, to say the least (considering that any future LTP’s government is extremely likely to be at least as undemocratic as the current one, given its previous record, which is nothing but democratic). I am still amazed some people actually buy all those lies.

  9. These elections have shown that it’s not the individuals that falsify elections. It’s a systematic problem that is in the core of the government.
    There needs to be a reform – reduce the size of the government, bring back the liberties to the people, reduce any levers that would tempt state employees go and stuff ballots, etc. There needs to be a civic independent oversight committee to oversee the elections. The media have to be free to report anything they want. The Public TV and the parliament newspapers need to be privatized.
    There are so many things that need to be reformed.

  10. Vahagn, no, I’m not saying that porpaganda and misinformation is hard to criticize. What I mean is that if a democratic movement does manage to overturn some of the undemocratic tendencies in the country, is that bad?
    I guess I’m referring to new elections. That is, a level playing ground for all. However, yes, I realize the danger. As architect of the “revolution” Levon would come to power on the back of it whether he deserves it or not.
    Anyway, let me just clarify. I am TOTALLY against propaganda and misinformation from any side. However, I also admit that alng with a head cold, it’s hard to think at present and work out what is going on, what are the possible outcomes and so on. Basically, if the “movement” can be seen to be a real democratic movement then it is hard to criticize it.
    However, I would prefer to hear less crap about Ter-Petrossian and more stuff about democracy. I also have to admit that wheeling out thug after thug to support the former president who set Armenia along the downward spiral toward falsified elections, human rights abuses and media censorship, doesn’t give me much hope.
    Then again, perhaps we should take a step back. Maybe there isn’t such a thing as a true democratic movement in countries such as Armenia. There are only those in power and those who used to be. Dunno, I haven’t been down to Liberty Square for a few days now for a number of reasons. When I do perhaps my thoughts will be clearer.
    Nevertheless, I am sure of one thing. That is, that Ter-Petrossian is using the people who are discontent for his own purposes and self-interest. On the other hand, if the majority choose to back him, that’s democracy too, no? If they regret their decision later, perhaps that also a lesson to be learned. However, I think that it’s more likely to be a battle between minorities with the majority stuck in between, but anyway.

  11. Onnik, thanks for the clarification. Sorry if I misunderstood you. I was kind of surprised at first, because I normally tend to agree with most of what you write.
    Also, I seriously doubt LTP is backed by the majority, despite his claims.

  12. I don’t get the “young airheads” reference? Are you equating rock musicians and their fans with brainlessness? Lest we forget that 60s radicalism was one and the same as the rock music of the era? The detractors then also dismissed them as mindless and meaningless.
    Change doesn’t happen through uber-seriousness, it happens through the spirit of life.

  13. Rock music of the 60s is NOTHING like rock music of today…Today’s rock is mainstream and pop and this is very much the case in the former soviet union since the American corporate model of rock was adopted in Armenia and the rest of the world.
    The rock of the 60s began in the 50s, it had been fully co-opted by corporate interests in the 70s, and was serving to propagate a lowest-common denominator system of mass consumption and ignorance by the 80s. Today it is a perfected art.
    Now, I’m not arguing that the rock musicians at the protest are not trying to make change. I’m merely arguing that the parallel you drew with 60s radicalism is not 100 percent accurate…
    Also, take into consideration that 60s radicalism was more a rebellion against the older generation and their ass backwards ways than a true critique and prescription of the fundamental problem. You need to look at the 50s my friend. Many in the 60s were mindlessly following others…but in the 50s, thats when you had true radical thought

  14. It is a simple rat run. We will see some more tomorrow and day after. As it is a national movement anybody can join.
    You forget that the main demand of this movement is to organise a new elections which will be fair and just. The demand is not making Levon the president .
    Serje can still run for presidency if he chooses to.
    I hope we all agree that the elections were falsified and therefore Serje was not elected.

  15. 🙂 Art I have always liked you for your beautiful mind:) I agree with you. I´ve read everything that´s happening now in Armenia and I can´t understand how my own nation can do this nonsenses.Have they all forgotten the years we passed with Levon? They look like lost sheep. In fact I don´t beleive in fair and just elections in Armenia. Becuase none of the candidates care about the nation.And I think Levon wants to return for lack of money. And Armenia will be in the same miserable conditions until Levon and Serjik and all the people of their bands are there, in the head of the country.

  16. The mechanizm of democracy exported to the former USSR area by the US is incomplete. Democracy in US or Britain for example has VERY many “soft” social activities, traditions and insitutions, apart from “THE ELECTIONS”. Western countries force the states in former USSR region to concentrate on “the elections”, while they themselves have many other ways to generate genuine democratic process IN BETWEEN the elections.
    Here is an example. Trade and other types of unions are one of the most important institutions of democracy. In the West trade unions are there all the time and they play the leading role in insuring one of the most important components of democracy – economic rights. People do not wait for next elections to struggle for their economic rights. For example, if Armenia had functioning trade unions, half of the people on the streets of Yerevan today would sit at home. I have never seen a serious western instituion working on the establishment of trade unions in the former USSR region. What they need YOU to do is to hold elections – all the time, the more elections you have the better. Because it is a way of destabilisation.
    Some 3 months ago I wrote that 2008 has “CRISIS YEAR” writter all over it. It has just begun and we already witnessed some very dramatic events. And more are going to come. US is getting weak economically and wants to have a totally destabilised world.

  17. 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.

  18. Also, I seriously doubt LTP is backed by the majority, despite his claims.

    I agree and I think that the demonstrations, which are smaller than you would expect if his vote really was stolen, are indicative of that, especially when you consider the police are almost nowhere to be seen and there are no reports of arrests as there were in 2003. Regardless, one thing in their favor is that they are more consistent and likely to continue longer with a core group ready to always be there.
    Anyway, I guess I’m not talking about a pro-Ter-Petrossian movement, but a pro-democracy movement and that is what the main challenge is. Turning the demonstrations into that if its possible which it might not be given the nature of individual led local politics. This is what I suppose Ter-Petrossian is hoping for.
    Incidentally, I have seen nothing to indicate that Levon polled more votes than Serge. However, I suspect that the irregularities were more than enough to give Sargsyan outright victory. Basically, I think there should have been a second round.

  19. Hayk, your point about Obama is a bit misleading, I think. Obama represents change, because he is new, nobody knows anything about him, and they are willing to give him a chance. LTP is NOT change, he is not new by any means, he is what Americans would call a “founding father” of the very system he is now fighting against. We have seen him as president before, and I personally am not willing to give him a third chance. Of course, anyone can disagree, but that’s my personal opinion, and I will stick by it.

  20. Vahagn
    Again, I am not talking about LTP. LTP is not new, just renewed. But the people with him, i mean those young educated guys (by the way they work in different universities as instructors, in the Banking sector, in the public sector and etc) they are new, and they are change.
    I am not blind and I do not believe in LTP fully. But at least I am taking side. I need to take side. I do not like to be neutral, indifference or passive involvement is the worst for Armenia now.
    I am 100% against LTP’s economic program. He thinks if he solves the Karabagh Problem, the roads will open and armenian production will soar. I do not think it is going to happen, without serious infrastructure within the country. The only thing the Karabakh problem solution could bring is foreign investments, because country risk will go down.
    The other thing about LTP’s economic program that I do not like is that there is no notion about countries development. I do not see how he sees the economic development, what directions he thinks will evolve in Armenia, just few notion about higher technologies, innovation economy, involvement in international markets. Nowadays to be in European and US markets is a matter of days. INTERNET, RE-EXPORT, E-COMMERECE with the world, not within the country and etc.
    Armenia should at least have 1 region (marz) as free economic zone, NO TAXES, NO PROFIT TAX for investors in certain sectors. INTERENET and TELECOMMUNIACTIONS in Armenia should be Tax free in Armenia (like in USA, no sales tax in US, and no VAT and profit Tax in Armenia).
    I am economist, and have international experience. I do not think that heavy industry will be enough for Armenia to develop and catch up with Azerbaijan.
    I am in economics and Business in all my life, and I perfectly understand all this stuff. I did not Economic Development program in LTP’s Program, because Hrant Bagratyan wrote that. Hrant Bagratyan is old thinker, he does not fully understand nowadays world economy and business environment.

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