The Prime Minister of Armenia has faced widespread protests. Why is he still leading the election? | News News

Few political leaders are involved, such as Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pasinyan.

Many in the South Caucasus have blamed him for his humiliating defeat in last year’s war with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region.

Thousands of protesters, top generals and political opponents called for his resignation as thousands of grieving families in Nagorno-Karabakh flooded Armenia.

And he resigned.

The 44-year-old, with a gray beard, said he would resign in April.

In a Facebook post on March 18, after so much pressure, Pashinyan announced a parliamentary vote in June as the “best way” out of the crisis.

However, the resignation and the vote are far from the political annihilation of Poshinian.

A poll by the Gallup International Association in late March found that the My Step Alliance, led by him, had a better chance of winning the election – and would vote for him again as prime minister.

About one-third of voters are ready to vote for My Step, which now holds 755 percent of the seats in Armenia’s single parliament.

Poshinian’s main opponent, Robert Kocharian, a former separatist leader who served as Armenia’s president in 1996-2008, lost by less than six percent of the vote.

Walking to the Kremlin drums?

During the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia suffered losses, with Russian President Vladimir Putin being Armenia’s top international supporter – and Pashinyan distancing himself from his pro-Western sympathies.

In April, his nearly four-hour meeting with Putin appeared to be a successful propaganda campaign – and a cutout. He listened intently to Putin, who took the tune of a consultant while talking to him in the Kremlin tea-room.

“We have effectively discussed all issues,” Poshinian told a Russian broadcaster at the end of the meeting. “Yes, I am very satisfied.”

Pashinyan discussed the supply of Russian-made anti-coronavirus vaccines, the construction of a nuclear power plant that is important to resource-poor Armenia, and Moscow’s assistance in freeing 200 Armenian prisoners held in Azerbaijan.

“The Kremlin is in full control of the situation in Armenia, and Premier Pashinyan is no longer a threat to Moscow, as he was in his first year as prime minister,” Emil Mustafayev, an analyst based in Baku, Azerbaijan, told Al Jazeera.

In an open April 6 issue of the Commercial Daily, Moscow-based analyst Sergei Strokan wrote: “How did the former leader of Armenia’s ‘color revolution’ transform into a child politician and finally understand who he was?” And how many things. “

The Kremlin hates and tries to suppress what is known as the “color revolution.”

The term refers to the Rose Revolution of Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2005.

Both pro-Russian leaders backed the pro-Western side, and the Kremlin still insists the West paid for them.

To prevent a possible “caste revolution” in Russia, Putin tightened electoral laws, suppressed opposition, and launched a youth movement that was trained in how to spread protest rallies.

Moscow stepped up its soft power to quell such uprisings in the former Soviet republics and provided loans and weapons to support Kremlin-friendly leaders such as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

After the “color revolution”, for example, Pashinyan became prime minister.

The series of street protests in 2018 attracted 100,000 people in 3.5 million countries and largely expelled a powerful circle of pro-Russian officials.

Failed hope

After Pashinyan came to power in 2018, many believed he would lead Armenia to the west.

“There was a lot of discussion among experts that Armenia’s new democratic government and, in turn, Armenia’s dependence on Russia would gradually diminish,” Benjamin Poghosyan, an analyst based in Yerevan, wrote in an open April 12 website.

But “now, Armenia is more dependent on Russia than ever before,” he concluded.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nicole Pasinayan in Moscow, Russia April-April 2021 [Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters]

Some have found bitter the fact that Moscow will not support the recent war with Azerbaijan, despite a defense agreement with Yerevan and a military base on Armenian soil.

The conflict killed thousands on both sides, and a large part of Nagorno-Karabakh returned to Azerbaijan, according to the Russia-brokered ceasefire.

A gift for Putin

Pashinyan did not reach Moscow empty-handed.

In a clear attempt to appease Putin, he put his worst political enemy at risk.

A day before he left Moscow, the Armenian Constitutional Court ruled in favor of the “coup” against Kochrian – almost 13 years after he ordered the use of violence against a street rally organized by Poshinian, then a popular preacher.

Eight protesters and two police officers were killed during the 2006 investigation, and Pashinan was later sentenced to seven years in prison. He was pardoned after a year of service.

After the allegations were dismissed, Kochrian immediately formed an opposition coalition to fight the June 20 election.

The coalition still has no name, and its ratings are now low, but if Kocharian can win or secure a large majority in parliament, the results will not be bad for the Kremlin either.

Boris Navasardian, a Yerevan-based political analyst, told Al Jazeera: “The party he formed during his ten years as president of Armenia will return.

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