Mass protests took place in Armenia to make the former president Serzh Sargsyan resign without any bloodshed or foreign interference.

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Briefly About Serzh Sargsyan

Serzh Sargsyan

Serzh Sargsyan finished Stepanakert Secondary School. In 1971, he entered the Yerevan State University. In 1979, he graduated from YSU Faculty of Philology.

He was the Minister of the Supreme Council of Armenia in 1990. From 1993-95 – Minister of Defense of the Republic of Armenia. During 1995-96, he was the head of State Security Department, then, Minister of National Security. In 1996-99, Minister of Internal Affairs and National Security. 1999-2000 – Head of the Presidential Staff.

In 1999-2007 – Secretary of the National Security Council under the President of the Republic of Armenia, 2000-2007 – Minister of Defense, 2007-2008 – Prime Minister. Finally, since April 9, 2008, he has been the Armenian President.

As a result of the four-day war in April, 2016, the Armenian side lost some territories. Serzh Sargsyan was the first to consider these territories as a buffer zone. They, according to him, were of no strategic or tactical significance.

Many politicians, political analysts and warlords, however, believe that these territories had strategic values and that their loss had a negative impact on the country.

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 The Moving Force of the Revolution

Protests and marches against Serzh Sargsyan (famous as “Deny Serzh”, as well as “Make your step, deny Serzh”. Social networks use the #MerzhirSerzhin(#DenySerzh) hashtag. There are also slogans for the police “Put your weapons, deny Serge “Slogans”, and also for drivers “If you’re against Serzh, make a beep “.) took place in Armenia, in 2018, against the third term of Serzh Sargsyan’s tenure. The main activities took place from April 16 till 24.

Serzh Sargsyan became the President of the Republic of Armenia in 2008, then he was re-elected in 2013. The Armenian Constitution, adopted in 1995, banned the same person from being the president for more than twice.

On September 4, 2013, Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree on the establishment of a professional body on constitutional reforms adjunct to the President of Armenia. On April 10, 2014, they introduced the project of constitutional reform concept to Serzh Sargsyan.

According to it, the country should change its system to a parliamentary one and the prime minister(the National Assembly Ministers elect him) should be the leader of the country. On the same day, Serzh Sargsyan officially announced that he will no longer be nominated for the position of the RA President or Prime Minister.

He particularly said:

“And before the start of the discussions, I officially state that I, Serzh Sargsyan, will never be nominated for the position of the President of the Republic of Armenia. If there is a path that does not fit my desire in the results of the final discussions, I mean the model of the parliamentary system, then I will not pretend to the post of Prime Minister as well. I’m sure that one person generally should not have to rule twice in his life in Armenia.”
– Serzh Sargsyan, April 10, 2014

The referendum was adopted on February 6, 2015. However, a few days before the end of the second term of the presidency, Serzh Sargsyan confirmed that he does not exclude his candidacy for the post of the prime minister.

Armenia Under Serzh Sargsyan

For 10 years, Sargsyan had been the president of Armenia. As the president, he let Russia extend its military presence in the Republic of Armenia. Other than that, he also cooperated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Joined Putin’s pet project the Eurasian Economic Union. Then, he signed a partnership agreement with the European Union.

Also, Armenia economically was in a very poor condition under Sargsyan. The strong economic ties to Russia served a reason for the slow economic growth. And it’s not that RA had many other options.

The government consistently ran high budget deficits. Unemployment in its place remains above 16 percent. In addition, about 11.6 percent of the population lives below the official poverty level.

According to a source, as of 2017,  about one million people born in Armenia live outside their homeland while only 3 million are still living there. Together with the entire Armenian diaspora, (they spread over the world long before the country became independent) there are around 8 million Armenians living worldwide.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, after observing all major Armenian elections, reported widespread pressure, intimidation and also vote-buying during Sargsyan’s presidency. As the leader of the whole nation, he also failed to eliminate the widespread corruptions taking place in the country.

On March 31, 2018, a member of the Civilian Treaty, and deputy of Parliament Nikol Pashinyan began a protest march. It started from Gyumri, passing through Vanadzor, Dilijan, Hrazdan, Abovyan and on April 13, reached to Yerevan’s Liberty Square, followed by round-the-clock rallies.

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Briefly About Nikol Pashinyan

Nikol was born on June 1, 1975, in Ijevan. In 1991-95, he studied at Yerevan State University. In the fifth year of graduation, he dropped out for political reasons. Since 1992, has actively engaged in journalism.

He has worked for many newspapers. In 1999, he was the Editor-in-Chief of “Haykakan Zhamanak(Armenian Time)” daily, occupying this post until 2012. In August 1999, he was sentenced to one year in prison, again for political reasons.

During the presidential elections in 2008, he was a member of the pre-election headquarters of presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

After 1 March 2008, while being in search, he spent a year and four months in hiding. On July 1, 2009, he voluntarily appeared at the RA General Prosecutor’s Office. There he was arrested and sentenced to 7 years in prison. They accused him of organizing mass disorders on March 1, 2008. Having spent one year and 11 months in prison, he was released on May 27, 2011, by an amnesty decision.

In 2012, he was elected as a deputy during parliamentary elections. During 2013-2015, he was a member of the “Civil Treaty” public-political union. In 2016 May, he was the commander of the “Civil Treaty” volunteer detachment.

He became a Deputy of the National Assembly in the elections of 2017, April 2nd, with “Elq(Exit; Way out)” alliance electoral list. Since May 2017, the leader of Elq parliamentary faction.

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My step

As a reminder, the Republican Party of Serzh Sargsyan won the parliamentary election in 2017. He did not keep his word and was elected as the prime minister after his second presidential term ran out.

Armenians no longer could put up with the injustice.

“My Step”

On April 8, “My Step” initiative closed the Yerevan-Dilijan highway for 10 minutes. On April 11, RA National Assembly deputies Ararat Mirzoyan and Lena Nazaryan lit up the material in their hands. There was colorful smoke near the chair of the National Assembly session hall. This way they were calling on the people to come to the Freedom Square on April 13.

In addition, there is a song for “My Step” initiative – the song “The Citizen’s Song”. The author of the lyrics is Nikol Pashinyan, the author and performer of music, Hayk Stver. See below:

“Deny Serzh” and “Help Serzh to retire”

On April 5, the “Deny Serzh” initiative organized a symbolic action in the center of Yerevan and collected money for Serzh Sargsyan’s pension.

The “Deny Serzh” carried out a march from Freedom Square to Yerevan’s central streets on April 9. On April 11, they closed the intersection of Tigran Mets-Melik Adamyan streets for about half an hour with the support of the “For The Republic of Armenia” front. The latter held its first rally at Liberty Square on April 10.

On April 9, Vardges Gaspari, a civil activist, held a poster “Serzhik – a murderer, serzhik – a scoundrel” in front of the home of the fourth president of Armenia, Armen Sargsyan. Police, however, used force against the civil activist, and as a result, his state of health deteriorated.

Various actions took place during those days, showing the nation’s displeasure.

Marches and Rallies

On April 13, members of the “My Step” initiative, marched from Gyumri to Yerevan. There, the members of the “Deny Serzh” initiative greeted them at the avenues of Yerevan’s Avan district. The members of the “My Step” and “Deny Serzh” initiatives arrived at Liberty Square at about 6:30 pm. Many citizens were waiting for them.

On the same day members of the “For The Republic of Armenia” front started rallies from Yerevan Gyulbenkyan Street and Komitas Avenue crossroad to the Liberty Square. They reached the residence of the Prime Minister (former president) in the Baghramyan Avenue. For a while, they closed a part of the avenue’s carriageway. Afterward, the members of the initiative entered Liberty Square.

In the morning of April 16, the former president of the Republic of Armenia, the leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), Serzh Sargsyan, in an interview with Russian “Izvestia” news agency, responded to the question on his post as prime minister, saying he was “ready to take such responsibility”.

March towards the Parliament building

The demonstrators smashed the first few police barricades and headed towards the National Assembly building.

According to “Azatutyun(Freedom)” radio station news, the police used barbed wires in Baghramyan Avenue and mobilized new forces after the protesters tried to move. Nikol Pashinyan was injured when trying to break the barriers.

The police also used tear gas, sound grenades an, other means, causing numerous people injuries. Meanwhile, authorities decided to disperse the demonstration. However, Nikol Pashinyan, who was in the hospital, said that the fight continues. At about 16:30, the police transported a water tank to Bagramyan Avenue.

According to Ministry of Health, 46 medical personnel were hospitalized with injuries, 6 of them were policemen.

National Assembly Sitting – Prime Minister Election

On April 17, in the RA National Assembly building the National Assembly elections of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia started. 91 deputies along with Serzh Sargsyan attended it.

At 5:05 pm, Serzh Sargsyan became prime minister. 77 National Assembly deputies voted for, 15 voted against.

At about 12:10, during the rally in the French Square, Nikol Pashinyan announced that he is now starting a velvet revolution and they must block public institutions. During the rally, the crowd of protesters stretched from the French Square to Amiryan Street.