by Lauren Hosp, Program Associate, Eurasia
A transition that moves too aggressively, or not aggressively enough, could dash the hopes of the velvet revolution.
In a period dominated by setbacks for global democracy, Armenia emerged as a potential success story just over two months ago, when peaceful protests forced Serzh Sargsyan, who held the presidency for a decade, to step down as prime minister. The demonstrators objected to Sargsyan’s attempt to evade presidential term limits by slipping into a newly empowered premiership. Under enormous public pressure, the ruling Republican Party agreed to confirm protest leader and opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinyan as the new prime minister in May, allowing him to organize a new government with a mandate for comprehensive reform.
On the one hand, the Republican Party still holds a majority in the parliament, and its cooperation is necessary for any major move that the new government wishes to make, including calling new elections. On the other hand, the power of the street is currently the dominant force in the country, and as long as the new government maintains the public’s support and activism, it can advance its agenda. Balancing these two factors will be extremely challenging, especially concerning demands for justice and real moves against corruption.
The work begins
Shortly after the change in government, the authorities began revealing the extent of the fraud committed by Sargsyan-era elites. The State Revenue Committee accused a company partly owned by Sargsyan’s brother and nephew of evading 300 million drams ($610,000) in taxes….