Serzh Sargsyan's inauguration, 40 day observence and the baloon festival

‘”Many things happened yesterday. Among those probably the most important was Serzh Sargsyan’s inauguration. For a lot of people though the important was that 40 days have passed since the deaths of 1 March riots.” – Armenian Patchwork

While it depended on the political orintation of the bloggers, to decide which of the events taking place yesterday was the most important for them, with the area around Yerevan’s Opera in almost total lock down, prime minister Serge Sargsyan was inaugurated as president in a ceremony and military parade that few citizens could even remotely get close to – so many of them were only able to cover the protest actions, rather then the grand inauguration ceremony. Raffi N at “Life in Armenia” has more:

Today was the official swearing in of Mr. Serge Sarksian as the new President of the Republic of Armenia. It really felt like an important event because ALL the streets were blocked… lots of police escorts…

Photos: © Artur Papyan / The Armenian Observer blog 2008
Onnik Krikoryan, a British photojournalist, reports how he was prevented from photographing the inauguration ceremony, despite showing press passes and the fact, that the event was held in a public area.

Prevented from covering that event, as was the case for almost every other photographer in Yerevan, there was always the opposition memorial to the eight killed during post-election clashes on 1 March occurring adjacent to the French Embassy. Somewhat unfortunately for Sargsyan, not only did 9 April mark the day of the start of his presidency, but it was also the traditionally observed 40th day after the deaths.


Photo © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008
And while Ogostos (ru) is looking at the moral aspect of holding lavish inauguration ceremony while so many people are mourning the death of their relatives and the memory of March 1 riots is still so vivid, Ahousekeeper (am) is amazed at just how shortsighted the Armenian authorities are to hold the inauguration 1) on the 40th day of memory of March 1 deaths, which is traditionally observed as a day of mourning in Armenia, 2) to block the Republic Square, the opera and several other streets, as a result making eveyone, regardless of their political orientation to curse the authorities 3) to stage “stupid” events in the republic square, which the “Levon supporters will try to interfere with”

It is natural, that celebrations are held on the day of president’s inauguration.
It is also quite frequent, that the opposition uses that day to stage protest actions and bring to the attention of the international community the problems of the country.
All of this happened today in Armenia. News agencies are reporting, that protest actions took place also outside of Armenia.

The protests, however, are not likely to affect the situation anymore, Mark Grigoryan writes in this analytical piece(ru), Serzh Sargsyan has become the President of Armenia, and that is now a fact. Nevertheless, there were 8 simulteneous protest actions in Yerevan, Bekaisa(ru) reports, including actions in front of the 1) RA Constitutional Court 2) Central Electoral Commission 3) OSCE office in Yerevan 4) European Union 5) US Embassy 6) Russian Embassy 7) French Embassy 8) Prosecutor’s office. Protests took place also in Kapan, Syunic region, as well as Kiyev, Ukraine and Moscow, Russia – in front of the RA Embassies.
Ahousekeeper also reports, that opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrossian supporters attempted to disrupt the baloon festival staged in the Republic square this evening, but were prevented from doing so by police forces, who quickly rounded them up. The blue sky festival did take place, and the Armenian Patchwork has photos to prove it.

Photo © Anush Babajanyan, Armenian Patchwork 2008
And while Akunamatata_ser(ru) is rejoicing and greeting everyone with the first day of Armenia’s new president’s coming to power and the start of the regime, built on fear, offences and blood, with an uncertain present and future, Nazarian(am) is paying tribute to those who died 40 days ago (Grigor Gevorgyan, Arman Farmanyan, Hamlet Tadevosyan, Gor Kloyan, Zaqar Hovhannisyan, Davit Petrossian, Tigran Khachatryan, Hovhannes Hovhannisyan). Notes From Hairenik on its turn is contemplating on Serzh Sargsyan’s chances to bring change to Armenia:

President Sargsyan has a lot to do in a short amount of time. He has to win over the confidence of the vast number of citizens who have no faith in him whatsoever and who regard him as being a petty oligarchic-tyrant.
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he has to prove that he can surpass in leaps and bounds everyone’s expectations and, most noteworthy, ensure that the downtrodden—namely those living in far-off rural parts of Armenia—start living better, fruitful lives. []Cracking down on corruption is something that is high on most everyone’s list of things for him to do. But seeing as the mayor of Yerevan—the one who has thrown the city into transportation mayhem with ludicrous, ill-planned road projects that are rumored to be money-laundering schemes—will apparently remain in office there is already cause for suspicion.

F5 blog(am) is even more sceptical – the new president won’t be able to change anything it speculates, while Unzipped is finding it even hard to beleive, that Serzh Sargsyan will be able to stay in power for long:

You just can’t stick to the power relying on a physical force. Well, you may for a while, but only for a while. No lasting solution could be based on force and violence. There is no alternative to democracy in Armenia.

Some bloggers are more pragmatic though – Martuni or Bust!!! is quite sure of the opposite:

Though there are still many unanswered questions regarding the legitimacy of the election which landed him the post of President and the events that followed that he was directly behind, I really believe that as usual and in a very short period of time, most will forget what happened and it will be business as usual.

The Podcast of this post, made by the Echannel.am team is available here.

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