Friday, October 5, 2018

Armenia Now Facing Something Like What Russia Did in October 1993, Moscow Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 5 – “The legitimate parliament refuses to be dissolved; in response, one charismatic politician mobilizes his supporters and blocks the legislative assembly.” But “this is not a recollection about the events of October 1993 in Moscow.” Instead, it is taking place in Armenia now, Igor Karmazin argues in Izvestiya today. 

            The dispute between the leaders of the Armenian parliament, all of whom were part of the old regime Nikol Pashinyan and the people overthrew in the spring, and Pashinyan himself has been brewing in the months since then. For most of the time, things were quiet. Now, they aren’t (

                The standoff reached its “apogee” three days ago. A massive crowd laid siege to the parliament building and the prime minister signed a decree dismissing six ministers.  More than that and in another echo of 1993, Pashinyan called on his supporters on the street to “struggle with ‘the counter-revolution.’”

            The besieged deputies denounced the actions of Pashinyan and the crowd, again as in Moscow 25 years ago, Karmazin points out.  The prime minister and a group of demonstrators went into the parliament building but “things have not reached the level of a storming of the parliament.” Pashinyan called on people not to fight with those guarding the building.

            Because the parliament is dominated by his opponents, Pashinyan needs to have an election called in advance of when it would normally take place. Polls show he would win it and that the supporters of the old regime would lose. Not surprisingly, he and the street want elections as soon as possible; and the current parliamentarians are opposed.

            The Armenian constitution allows for extraordinary elections to be called if the parliament can’t choose a prime minister after two tries.  Pashinyan is working to stay within that limit by resigning, but now he faces a new task: On October 2, the parliament voted to allow itself to continue to work even without a prime minister.

            That has resulted in a deadlock, but it is not one that Armenia can solve in the same way Russia did a quarter of a century ago if for no other reason than this: the Armenian parliament has carefully stayed within the rules, while Pashinyan has led a revolution, something that might not be a problem were it not for the fact that Moscow is against any revolution there.

            Given that Moscow is the chief guarantor of the security of Armenia, the Izvestiya commentator concludes, that tilts the situation in Yerevan in potentially a very different direction than the one in Moscow in October 1993.

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