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April 14-21

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International Response to the Velvet Revolution in Armenia


BBC referred to the demonstrations in Yerevan and other cities protesting against Serzh Sargsyan’s appointment as a new Prime Minister. Their Caucasian correspondent reported from Yerevan that the demonstrators blocked highways and paralyzed traffic, and blocked several government buildings. The correspondent also notes, that "the protesters have been chanting "Serzh the liar" about the ex-president, who in the past said that he had no intention of becoming the country's prime minister after the end of his second presidential term. Many Armenians want to see a genuine change in their country but they feel that they are being deprived of that opportunity because the leadership remains the same."

Euronews touched upon the cases of violence against the peaceful demonstrators by the police. Euronews reports that "tens of thousands marched through the capital Yerevan in protest against former president Serzh Sargsyan being appointed prime minister. Police arrested dozens of opposition activists who accuse Sargsyan of making a power grab."

German Deutsche Welle also writes that protesters rally against ex-president's power grab. Analysts have described this transition as a move practiced often in former Soviet countries. "Obviously, this is a mechanism that allows Armenia's current ruling elite to stay in charge. It's a familiar tactic in the post-Soviet space, where leaders endlessly tinker with their constitutions to perpetuate their power," said Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe think tank.

Human Rights Watch has also responded to the events in Armenia and urged the authorities to refrain from the use of force in their statement by saying the following: "Armenia’s authorities should protect people’s right to peaceful assembly. Any police response needs to be proportionate and in line with United Nations law enforcement standards. It is never too late for Armenia’s police to turn around their poor record on using excessive force."

The US Department of State has also issued an official statement in which it says: "We are encouraged by the responsible and respectful behavior of the vast majority of protestors and police throughout the last several days. We are troubled, however, by reports of sporadic clashes between police and protesters, including some injuries. We encourage both government authorities and the protesters to exercise restraint and avoid any escalatory or violent actions."

The Delegation of the European Union and EU Member State Embassies in Armenia also made their statement on recent political developments in Armenia: "The European Union is closely following ongoing developments in Yerevan and other cities. Citizens have a legitimate right to exercise freedom of assembly in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law. State authorities have a duty to ensure public safety and health by applying the law in a fair and proportionate manner. It is important that all parties involved continue to show restraint and responsibility."

ODIHR Director urges Armenian authorities to protect and ensure right to freedom of peaceful assembly. “All people have a fundamental right to express their opinion in peaceful protests,” the ODIHR Director said. “Law enforcement authorities must not only refrain from interfering with the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, but have a responsibility to facilitate this right. This includes ensuring the safety and security of participants in the face of any disruptions, such as by agent provocateurs or counter-protestors.”

While noting the offer by the Armenian authorities to engage in dialogue with the opposition, Gísladóttir expressed concern over reported instances of the disproportionate use of force by Armenian police against peaceful protestors, including minors, as well as indiscriminate arrests in Yerevan and other cities.

“The authorities must make certain that any measures to ensure public security are lawful, necessary and proportionate, and are not aimed at muting dissenting opinions,” Gísladóttir said.


Prepared by Marina Muradyan

31 May 2020
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The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

Yerznkian 75, 0033
Yerevan, Armenia


+374 10 528780 / 274818



The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect those of the Center.

While citing the content, the reference to "ACNIS ReView from Yerevan” is obligatory.