By Rashid Shirinov
Nearing presidential election raises high concerns about the new wave of protests in Armenia, the poorest country in the South Caucasus.
Mikayel Melkumyan, Vice Speaker of the Armenian Parliament from the “Tsarukyan” bloc, has recently said level of poverty is quite high in the country and it does not fall below the rate of 30 percent of the population.
“As for the unemployment rate, it is at 20 percent. The flow of labor migrants from the country is very large. If we compare these indicators with those of Georgia and the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, we have the most negative indicators,” Melkumyan said.
The MP also noted that the current social and economic situation in Armenia will have negative consequences for the economy and labor productivity in the country.
These problems alone are sufficient prerequisites for social upheaval in Armenia. In addition, there was no increase in pensions during the past two years, and this is not expected this year either. As for the salaries, last year Armenia had the lowest increase among the Eurasian Economic Union states – just slightly above 1 percent.
Strangely, the protests of 2015, often called Electric Yerevan or No Robbery protests, as well as the attack of a group of armed men on a police station in Yerevan, where they took nine hostages and demanded the resignation of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, had no tangible effect on the policy of the Armenian authorities. The social situation of people has barely improved after these events.
Therefore, there is opinion that the Armenian population is today fully resigned to the incapable authorities.
“The overwhelming majority of citizens have resigned to the idea that the Republicans [the ruling Republican Party] will be in power,” Gevorg Gorgisyan, Secretary of the Armenian parliamentary faction “Exit,” has recently told news.am. He noted that many Armenians took pre-election bribes in April 2017 and therefore voted for the ruling Republican Party, and as a result, today there is a depressing picture in the country. Gorgisyan also pointed out the widespread rises in price and said that this year the price increases will continue.
As the deputy chairman of the board of the party “Heritage” Armen Martirosyan has recently noted, the Armenian society is in a state of deep political apathy. However, he does not exclude that some protest moods will be observed in the country this year.
Currently, majority of Armenians prefer another option to holding protests. Thousands of them just leave the country, because they know that there will hardly be positive changes in the composition of the ruling elites of Armenia. However, the plight of almost three millions of Armenians who remain in the country may result in another mass protest, as a cry of last hope.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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