Protesters talk with police officers during a night rally in support of the group “Sasna Tsrer”, 31 July 2016
Sunday in Yerevan all members of the group “Sasna Tsrer” (translated as “the brave men of Sasun”), captured on 17 July, the regiment PPP, surrendered to the authorities. On Monday, the case against them was transferred to Special investigation service. 24 members of the group were charged under the article “seizure of buildings”, “illegal acquisition, sale, storage, transportation of arms,” “hostage-taking”. Only the national security Service of Armenia detained and arrested 47 people, the newspaper writes Aysor. am.
15 days of the seizure
The area of the regiment was captured by the group of the “Sasna tsrer” on the night of August 17. In the grouping according to Armenian media, consisted of 30 people. While capturing one policeman was killed and six people, including five policemen, were injured. Hostages were taken, seven people, including two Deputy city police chief. All were released by July 23. The second group of hostages, the doctors who arrived to assist after the shooting, the group captured 27 July to 30 July and those were released. Another policeman was killed July 30. As stated on Sunday by the police, he was killed by a sniper situated on the territory of the regiment.
Members of the group demanded the release from prison of the leader of the opposition movement “Founding Parliament” Zhirayr Sefilyan, the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan, calling the new government.
Sefilyan — known people in Armenia. He was born in Lebanon, took part in the Karabakh war. In 2012, Sefilian began to engage in politics and became one of the founders and leaders of the Constituent Parliament in favour of changing the current government. The head of the organization is to Garegin Chugaszyan, he was declared wanted.
Violent of Sasun: who seized the police station in Yerevan
Monday, July 25, in the media appeared the first photos of armed opposition seized a police building in Yerevan. Among them a photo of the leader of the invaders Pavlik Manukyan. Members…
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In the composition of the PPS group seized a third of veterans of the Karabakh war, among them the Pavlik Manukyan Araik Handaan and Mkhitar Avetisyan, and several of the young people who participated in led by Sevillana movements. Relatives of two members of this group were convicted for political business or Affairs with a political motivation, reported previously Deputy Nikol Pashinyan.
One of the leaders of the armed group was Pavlik Manukyan, a veteran of the Karabakh war. He and his son were arrested at the hospital, which came on 27 July after a shootout on the territory of the regiment. Wound then received five people, including one policeman.
Manoukian filed the charges under article “capture of buildings, constructions, means of transport, or communication.” and “illegal acquisition, sale, storage, transportation or carrying of weapons, ammunition”. Under these articles punishment in the form of deprivation of liberty for a term up to 12 years. Manukyan refused to plead guilty,” said his lawyer Inessa Petrosyan (quoted by Sputnik Armenia).
The radicalization of protest
Since 2013, no summer in Armenia has not passed without protest rallies. Last year from June to September there was a protest against the increase in electricity tariffs in 2014 — against the pension reform in 2013 — against an increase in public transport fares in Yerevan.
Street activity, influence through meetings at policy inherent in Armenian political culture, says Alexander Iskandaryan, Director of Caucasus Institute, located in Yerevan. However, the capture by an armed group of the state of the object has occurred for the first time, he says. “We can say that there is a protest radicalization and polarization of society”, — said the expert.
In support of the group that seized the PPP, almost immediately began to hold rallies, like the building, and Freedom square. Saturday took part from 1,5 to 6 thousand people, writes the “Caucasian knot”. The police tried to disperse the event. On July 29 held a procession in support of the rebels, dispersed by the police cordon near the captured building. According to Ministry of health for medical assistance after the dispersal of the rally appealed 73 people.
A year ago, during protests against the increase in electricity tariffs, the Armenian experts noted that traditional parties did not participate in organizing the rallies, and took to the streets of new generation. Neither in 2015 nor in 2014, the protests have not participated in any one political party from those represented in the National Assembly of the Republic or the Board of aldermen (city Parliament) in Yerevan. And now the protesters are not so much supported specific leaders or hostage-taking as dissatisfied with the current government, points out associate Professor of the Department of regional studies and foreign policy of the Russian state humanitarian University Sergey Markedonov in the material for the Carnegie Center.
The opposition and the presidential Republican party condemned the violence, however, some opposition deputies were in the forefront at rallies, Iskandaryan said. Among them were Nikol Pashinyan from the Armenian national Congress and Zaruhi Postanjyan from the Heritage party. They were at rallies last year.
Against the Deputy Chairman of Heritage party Armen Martirosyan initiated a criminal case on charges of organizing and participating in mass riots and he was arrested. The same charge is brought against the leader of the opposition initiative “Arise, Armenia,” Andreas Ghukasyan, he is also arrested. Apparently, the government treats the statements as a call for supporting terrorists, said Iskandaryan.
As last year, at the meetings, which sounded the slogan “serzhik, go away!” participated well-known public figures and actors, not only from Armenia, but also guests from abroad. “An armed attack is a consequence of despair,” said the wife of the famous canadian Director of Armenian origin Atom Egoyan’s actress arsine Khanjyan.She was arrested on July 27. Against the bloodshed was made by the lead singer of System of a Down Serj Tankian.
Citizens are largely excluded from political life, the President’s team in recent years managed to narrow the field of political discussion, said a senior researcher of the Center for Caucasus and regional security MGIMO-University Nikolai Silayev. Thus, according to him, in society there are forces, dissatisfied with the status quo, but they are not institutionalized. Protests in the near future is unlikely to lead to the emergence of new political structures, predicts the expert.
As for avoiding bloodshed
Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, whose resignation was demanded by the invaders, July 17, held an emergency meeting on the situation, but the statements did not do. Five days later, on July 22, he declared about the inadmissibility of such actions and also explained why the government is not tough action. “We exercise patience, why not choose a classical path. We road the life and health of every citizen of Armenia”, — said the President. Since then, it the situation is not commented. The same wait-and-see tactics, the authorities took last summer.
For the next two weeks authorities have been negotiating, that result has not led. As told in Saturday Zhirayr Sefilyan, who is in prison in the last days he was visited by “respected people”, who met with the President. According to him, he was told that Sargsyan has not changed its position and remained of the opinion that members of the armed group “Sasna tsrer” must lay down their arms, and only then did he agree to meet with Sevillana. The latter stated that it is first necessary to meet with “his guys”, and then with the President.
The President, as the members of the group Sefilyan, a veteran of Karabakh. During the war with Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, he led the Committee of defense forces of Nagorno-Karabakh, and then became Minister of defense of Armenia. A mediator in the talks between Sargsyan and Sevillana played another hero of the Karabakh war, is now a member of the Parliament of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Vitaly Balasanyan.
Wait-and-see tactics of the authorities Iskandaryan explains the peculiarity of the Armenian mentality: a nation emerging from war, is a taboo for killing an Armenian is an Armenian. Although he was in the history and excesses, he says: in 2008, after the presidential elections which gave victory to Serzh Sargsyan, the successor of President Robert Kocharian, held protests, which was dispersed on the tenth day, killing at least nine people.
Against the authorities find several new factors, which are difficult to dismiss, indicates the expert. Generational change, dissatisfaction with a request for an alternative vision of the future of the country, as the desire for change is almost not represented in the political elite of Armenia, which is dominated by politicians, formed in the Soviet times and focused on the maintenance of complex bureaucratic balances, but not to development, lists the expert.
Hence arises the demand for radicalism, including acts of violence and terrorism that it is extremely dangerous to the very existence of Armenia, the expert warns.
On Monday, President Sargsyan met with public and political figures and said that in response to the events will be up reforms. “One thing is clear — in public and political life must accelerate the process of radical changes. We cannot tolerate even the thought of the possibility of solving issues with weapons. Next [attempt] can be damaging to our country,” the President warned (quoted by “Interfax”).
The President said reforming the government: “At this stage our goal is the formation of government of national consent, where the implementation decisions will be under the responsibility of a wide field of agreement. The constitutional reform carried out with this purpose”.
Necessary for reform actions have already been taken. In December last year in a referendum approved a new Constitution that strengthens the powers of Parliament and the election, not popular vote, the head of state. The opposition and some experts explained that this initiative is the fact that Sargsyan is ending his second term, he would like to retain power. Strengthening the role of Parliament and the Prime Minister will allow him to take the Premiership.
Parliamentary elections under the new rules is scheduled for spring 2017.
With regard to the requirements that the invaders were brought to the political life of the country, they have achieved nothing, says Silaev. According to the expert, given the difficult situation in the Armenian society, the response of authorities insufficient.
However, the rebels succeeded in its foreign policy, says Silaev: during the events in Yerevan has been actively discussed the alleged offer of Russia on settlement of the Karabakh conflict, which is supposed to return the territories to Azerbaijan. Now the authorities have the opportunity to say that no concessions could not go, the expert believes.
Among the demands of the rebels were no proposals on Karabakh, but we know that the “Founding Parliament” Sefilyan advocates for the inclusion of Karabakh into Armenia.
Sargsyan on Monday stated that unilateral concessions on Karabakh will not.