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The first official working day this year was used by the Armenian opposition politicians to remind about their existence and announce plans for rallies in the coming days.
Ex-President Levon Ter-Petrossian’s Armenian National Congress and the age-old Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun), indeed needed to remind about their existence, because the general public in Armenia rarely cares about them at all, just as the leaders of those opposition forces rarely care about the general public. This is of course just my private observation, impression or speculation…
Back to the rallies – Armenian National Congress plans to hold a rally tomorrow, on January 8th, near Vardan Mamikonian’s statue in central Yerevan, to be followed by a traditional march through downtown Yerevan. The rally is staged to support the candidacy of jailed editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak” newspaper Nikol Pashinian, who is running for Parliament in January 10 by-elections in electoral district number 10. Levon Ter-Petrossian will speak at the rally, making it more global and more interesting politically, but more boring for the rally-participants. He’ll certainly deliver one more of those 8-10 page speeches, which are always impressive, but lost to the public.
Dashnaktsutiun will hold their rally on January 11th, in Yerevan’s Shahumian square. The rally is staged to protest against ratification of Armenian-Turkish protocols for improving bi-lateral relations. This rally will also end with a march – Dashnaktsutiun supporters will walk from Shahumian square to the building of the Constitutional court on Baghramian avenue, and hand out their petition, urging the Constitutional court to call the protocols un-constitutional and illegal in the session planned for the next day – January 12th.
Remarkably, both rallies are taking place in unusual rally locations. The Armenian National Congress are in the habit of rallying in front of the Opera house (now under construction), or Matenadaran – the ancient manuscript museum. The Dashnaks also have their favorite rally-spot – in the square next to Yerevan’s Moscow cinema theatre.
With most people concerned about basic survival – having spent huge amounts on laying out the traditional New Year table, and fear over H1N1 scare, downplayed by the authorities, both rallies are expected to attract small numbers of supporters.