Opposition parties in Armenia appear to have different approaches to calls by activists for staging protests during next week’s visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A number of Armenian civil and human rights activists in recent days have revealed their intention to organize demonstrations when the Russian leader arrives in Armenia on an official visit on December 2. They have not revealed any specific plans yet.
While in Armenia Putin will discuss with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian the course of Yerevan’s accession to the Moscow-led Customs Union the decision on which was announced by Armenia on September 3. He also plans to visit the Russian military base headquartered in the northwestern Armenian town of Gyumri.
The opposition Heritage party is the only parliamentary force in Armenia that has unequivocally pronounced in favor of anti-Putin protests. Deputy head of the party Armen Martirosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.com) that they think that the Russian leader is coming to Armenia to “solidify the loss of Armenia’s sovereignty”.
“Our youth activists are going to take part in such actions, as this reaction is honest and substantive,” he said.
Representatives of the opposition-leaning Prosperous Armenia Party refrained from expressing any views on the matter, while representative of the opposition Armenian National Congress party Lyudmila Sargsian called it inappropriate to hold protests against Putin.
“Neither it is correct nor can be of any use,” she commented, adding that protests should rather be directed against the Armenian government.
Ruling Republican Party representative Eduard Sharmazanov took the calls for staging anti-Putin protests in their stride, but said that protests were acceptable as long as they were held “within the framework of the law”.
Civil activist Vardges Gaspari, known for his one-man protest actions, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that regardless of whether others will hold protests or not, he will stage his own action.
“I absolutely do not welcome Putin’s coming to Armenia,” he said. “I will express my opinion with the flags of Armenia and the European Union and possibly words ‘You Are Not Welcome Here’,” the activist said.