Collapse: Anticipating a political earthquake in Armenia

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Baku, 26 September 2019 –

Experts have recently been noting the deepening of the political crisis in Armenia. The number of Armenian officials who are discontent with Nikol Pashinyan`s policy is growing and they are leaving the ruling party. The party, which just a year ago seemed to be a strong force and was even described by some as democratic, in fact, was torn apart by contradictions. The situation has worsened to the extent that experts are warning of the collapse of the government. Against this background, the resignation of several senior officials is of particular interest. The "revolutionary'' government seems to be unable to find a way out of the situation. Pashinyan`s approval ratings are now going down at a rapid pace. People continue staging protests against Amulsar gold mine. Senior police chief Valeri Osipyan, who opposed the government`s crackdown on the demonstrators, resigned from his post. Pashinyan`s statements contradict sharply with his political identity. Such a scenario may cause chaos in the country. This article will look at the Armenian political crisis and its implications for the regional geopolitics.

Political lie: Armenian government at the brink of new chaos

There is a saying: "By an earthquake or a commotion”, which means that something would be destroyed by an earthquake or a commotion. The Armenian government is now in this very situation. Disagreements within the government deteriorated into a serious confrontation, causing a commotion. This commotion may bring about a political earthquake. Armenian experts are warning about this (see: Акоп Бадалян. Политическое землетрясение: власть повышает градус жаркой осени /, 16 September 2019).

When Nikol Pashinyan launched his movement a year and a half ago it was described as undemocratic. However, some experts called it "a peaceful democratic movement''. Western politicians even coined a ridiculous concept of "Armenian democracy''. Pashinyan`s activities later proved this movement to be a political show. It is clearly evidenced by what is now happening within the Armenian government. Now let`s highlight some of the facts that prove this argument.

Pashinyan called his movement "a velvet revolution'' or "a peaceful democratic Armenian revolution'' because police did not use force against protesters and the people who took to streets did not storm government buildings. They just managed to press the then government to push back. However, they now violate this initial principle on an issue, which is of crucial importance to the Armenian society. Pashinyan wants the police to use force against people who blocked the access to Amulsar gold mine in protest against operations there.

He made this proposal at a meeting of the National Security Council. The country`s police chief V.Osipyan objected, saying the use of force would trigger serious clashes. The "democrat”, "velvet'' Prime Minister said he would find someone else to do it, and Osipyan immediately submitted a letter of resignation. Then it turned out that Pashinyan should fulfill the instructions of his Western "democrat'' patrons who demand the opening of the road to Amulsar.

Osipyan`s resignation grabbed the media spotlight. It was preceded by the resignation of head of the National Security Service Artur Vanetsyan, which sparked wide public discussions.Armenian experts believe that Vanetsyan was one of the key figures in Pashinyan`s team. A carrier security officer, he graduated from the Academy of the Russian Federal Security Service where he later attended a professional course. The Armenian President and Prime Minister put great confidence in Vanetsyan when he was appointed as head of the security service. In fact, he saved the Armenian government from many troubles. But now their ways are parting, with Vanetsyan hinting at principled reasons behind his resignation.

In a vague press statement, Vanetsyan wrote: "Let my resignation be a sobering 'Stop' step,'' Vanetsyan said. "State-building has its logic: spontaneity of actions and decisions and a work style of not differentiating between primary and secondary and transient and lasting things is not the path leading to the realization of goals. It has nothing in common with the officer’s honor: the officer’s epaulettes are incompatible with such a course of events.'' (see: previous source).

Resignations: an emerging revolution against a revolution

It was clearly stated that the policy pursued by the Armenian government is inadequate. It is marred by spontaneous decisions, illogical and unreasonable steps, unbiased assessment of the processes. So even career security officers such as Vanetsyan already know that it is impossible to hide the truth. His predecessors could do the same a year ago, but it seems that the Armenian character did not allow it. They probably believed that Pashinyan would bring democracy and sovereignty to Armenia. Actual events show that Pashinyan and his team acted purely in their own interests and now agree to use force against those who are in the situation that they once were. But does Pashinyan have a right to accuse Robert Kocharyan? Both of them are cut from the same cloth.

Against this background, two major events signal a forthcoming political earthquake in Armenia. The first is the Supreme Court`s rejection of the Constitutional Court ruling to release Kocharyan. In addition, the Armenian parliament speaker said the issue had to be discussed at the parliament.

Secondly, Pashinyan intends to arrest former prosecutor general Agvan Ovsepyan. Experts described it as the new government`s excessive appetite, and believe this was the major reason behind Vanetsyan`s resignation because he was careful not to cross the line and was convinced that radical moves would throw Armenia into the abyss.

Experts do not rule out new resignations. They point to deep cracks within the Armenian government and ineffectiveness of Pashinyan`s policy. Interestingly, public discontent is also growing. People are anticipating actual results, while the Prime Minister is only making empty ideological statements full of pathos. But this pathos vanished when Amulsar events happened. The Armenians became certain that their Prime Minister was neither a democrat, nor a patriot, and that the only thing he can do is idle talk.

It turns out that the political crisis in Armenia is entering a new stage caused by the ineffective policy of the Pashinyan team. At the same time, the Armenian experts did not rule out that Moscow could also have a hand in this process. This argument looks more interesting in the light of Patrushev`s discussing the Amulsar issue during his one-on-one meeting with Pashinyan. It was Patrushev`s visit that paved the way for the major processes.

Experts believe that Vanetsyan will resume political activity. This may mark the beginning of the collapse of Pashinyan`s regime. It`s not about Vanetsyan winning the elections. Most importantly this confirms the changing geopolitical dynamics in the entire South Caucasus and proves that external attempts to stage a revolution in the region are doomed to failure. After the collapse of Pashinyan`s government, concepts such as "Armenian velvet revolution'' and "Armenian democracy'' will become just empty words.

These factors may definitely bring new geopolitical risks and uncertainty to the region. So regional countries should be ready. Certain forces may try to use the political situation in Armenia to commit provocations. If not prevented, these provocations may put the entire South Caucasus at risk. Armenia is again becoming a source of risks, dangers and radical behavior in the region. One of the superpowers should probably play a balancing role in this situation.

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