The Parallel Realities of Post-Election Armenia

Armenia - Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian is greeted by supporters in Yerevan's Liberty Square, 22Feb2013 | Photolur via
Armenia – Opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian is greeted by supporters in Yerevan’s Liberty Square, 22Feb2013 | Photolur via

There’s a lot said and done these days in the name of the people of Armenia, to the people of Armenia, for the people of Armenia, with the people of Armenia, regardless the people of Armenia…
The incumbent president Serzh Sarkissian was one of the first to speak about the Armenian people. He thanked the nation for his “good” February 18 election win!?
Then came former foreign minister Raffi Hovhannisian, the runner up in the elections, who said the Armenian people had won. 
Sarkissian, of course, and not surprisingly so, was declared the winner of the presidential election with 58.64 percent of the vote, Hovannisian finished in second place with 36.75 percent.
The name of the Armenian people was mentioned again and again in the days that followed, as dictators big and small, led by Russia’s Vladimir Putin, started congratulating Sarkissian and praising the choice of the Armenian people. Soon after US, EU followed suit.
And than Raffi Hovhannisian met with Serzh Sarkissian and came back from that meeting and spoke to the Armenian people and left them pondering for a whole day as to what on earth Raffi and Serzh had spoken about.
Today Raffi Hovhannisian told a rally of thousands of supporters that he offered Sarkissian to hand over power, or hold new elections, or at least punish those, who forged the elections. All in the name of the Armenian people. And, he said, Sarkissian refused it all.

Parallel People

Armenia -- Raffi Hovhannisian's post-election rally, Yerevan, 22Feb2013 | via Tzitzernak
Armenia — Raffi Hovhannisian’s post-election rally, Yerevan, 22Feb2013 | via Tzitzernak

Meanwhile, the Armenian people are mostly minding their own business, leaving political leaders to their own devices.
What I’m hearing most of the time these days, is that someone voted for Serzh because they had to, or they voted Raffi, because they didn’t want to vote Serzh, or they didn’t go to the polls.
And since, unlike the Armenian people mentioned by Sarkissian, and the other Armenian people mentioned by Hovhannisian, and yet another Armenian people spoken about by Putin and the like, the Real Armenian People I meet on the street tell me, that it was largely a vote “against” Serzh, not  “for” Raffi, I understand, that many are considering their mission completed and see no need to stand up “for” their “against” votes.
And yet, I haven’t seen the Liberty square full of so many people since Levon Ter-Petrossian’s  rallies of 2011 (5 to 8 thousand estimated).
Parallel Politics
Raffi Hovhannisian is certainly not the kind of politician that Armenians or Armenian politics is used to seeing.
I was incredibly surprised yesterday upon hearing that Hovhannisian had gone over the Presidential palace and met Sarkissian. I’m sure everyone else was.
Today, I’m again increadibly surprised to learn, that Raffi Hovhannisian is not planning to stay in the center of Yerevan and wait for the critical mass of supporters to gather, so the authorities give way to the power of masses, like is the scenariou of Ukrain’s Orange revolution, Georgia’s Rose revolution and recently was Egypt’s Tahrir square revolution. Instead, Hovhannisian is planning to hold a series of rallies in the regions and come back to Yerevan and hold another one here.
Armenia -- Dashnakstutyun leader Armen Rustamian and HAK MP Nikol Pashinian at Raffi Hovhannisian's post-election rally, Yerevan, 22Feb2013
Armenia — Dashnakstutyun leader Armen Rustamian and HAK MP Nikol Pashinian at Raffi Hovhannisian’s post-election rally, Yerevan, 22Feb2013 | via Tzitzernak

I still hold the opinion I voiced earlier, that this won’t help and the protest wave will eventually die out. But what if the policy of going to the people just works? I guess there is plenty of logic and a recognition of Hovhannisian’s unorthodox politics behind the earlier decision by Nikol Pashinian and today also ARF-Dashnaktsutyun to support his cause.
PS: No, despite what Dashnaktsutyun says, I don’t think “this movement is unstoppable,” but what if…?

Artur Papyan

Journalist, blogger, digital security and media consultant


  1. Reblogged this on Notes of a Spurkahye and commented:
    When stuck between a rock and a hard place, what is the best choice and how much are you willing to risk for the choice you make?

  2. Eeeeh my friend,
    You know what’s important now? To ask the question “how”.
    Not how Raffi is going to make a revolution (although this is also important)
    But how will he manage the country if he is in power. During his entire campaign and post elections period he never said that. What he talks about is nice promises and emotional calls. But never figures and exact, precise steps, never plans on economy. He does even tell who he sees as prime-minister. (Is it a secret or what?)
    If you look attentively, his program is a very image-centered, amateur-oriented program. (To me, it’s simply fooling the audience)
    I am afraid to think about his perception of Artsakh problem. Now, when we live in peace for some 15-20 years and negotiate with the whole world about it – he offers to recognize Artsakh. It literally means bombing Baku. And he wants everyone to believe that Serj, being from Artsakh cares about Artsakh less than he does.
    I didn’t vote for Serje and will never do. But I don’t see Raffi as an alternative. Or rather, I see him as the last possible alternative.
    And last but not least. Elections were fake. And once these were fake elections, Raffi can’t be a winner. No one can be a winner in fake elections. Because if elections are fake – you need to revote. You can’t say “elections were fake” and then declare yourself a winner. It’s either elections were fake or you are a winner.

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