Representatives of major Armenian opposition parties on Wednesday voiced solidarity with anti-government protesters battling security forces in Ukraine’s capital Kiev but disagreed on consequences of the deadly unrest for Armenia.
“If the revolutionary wave in Ukraine succeeds it can reach Armenia,” said Armen Martirosian, the deputy chairman of the Zharangutyun (Heritage) party. Martirosian said that many Armenians unhappy with their government would be inspired by the possible overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich.
“If political forces really become carriers of public mood they must now join forces to fight for regime change in the country,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “The number one demand of our people is regime change and radical reforms.”
Ukraine -- Anti-government protesters gather at a barricade in central Kiev February 19, 2014.
Vladimir Karapetian, the foreign policy spokesman for the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), predicted that the Ukrainian opposition will succeed in toppling Yanukovich, saying that the latter is primarily responsible for the deaths of 25 people in Tuesday’s vicious clashes in Kiev. But he insisted that that will have little impact on political developments in Armenia.
“We have our problems and we will voice them and enable the people to express their views, including in the streets,” said Karapetian.
The HAK, which is led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, plans to rally supporters in Yerevan on the March 1 anniversary of a similar deadly unrest in Yerevan that followed a disputed presidential election in February 2008. Some HAK supporters expect that the rally will mark the beginning of a new campaign of anti-government protests.
The anti-government protests in Kiev were sparked last November by Yanukovich’s last-minute decision to walk away from an Association Agreement with the European Union under apparent pressure from Russia. Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian announced a similar foreign U-turn in September but faced much smaller street protests in the following weeks.
Zharangutyun is the only major opposition force that has explicitly condemned Sarkisian’s decision to make Armenia part of a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. It has also denounced Russian pressure on Yerevan.
Several Zharangutyun members were among more than two dozen people who demonstrated outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Yerevan on Wednesday. They blamed the Ukrainian government as well as the Kremlin for the bloodshed.
“Yesterday Yanukovich ceased to be a legitimate president,” declared Davit Shahnazarian, a former HAK figure highly critical of the Russian leadership. “What happened in Kiev was organized and carried out by the same center that was responsible for what happened in Armenia on March 1, 2008,” he charged.