Armenia: why isn't Moscow intervening?

After several days of demonstrations in Armenia Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan has resigned. He had been president of the country for ten years and then taken over the post of prime minister and tightened his grip on power. Just a week later, however, he stepped down. Commentators ask why Moscow hasn't intervened to support its ally.

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Unian (UA) /

Wait and see and then take control once more

Russia needn't be too worried about the developments in Armenia, comments political scientist Maksym Rosumnyj in Unian:

“Sargsyan's resignation very probably took Russia by surprise. Because the situation has been difficult to understand so far and it's hard to tell what will happen next Moscow is taking a wait-and-see stance. Right now it doesn't see its influence in Armenia in danger and doesn't believe that the country will become stronger and more independent through these developments. On the contrary, Moscow reckons the domestic crisis will weaken Armenia and that the possibilities for controlling the country will therefore remain intact.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Russia doesn't want to get its fingers burnt

Radio Kommersant FM detects another reason for Moscow's restraint:

“We're living in a new reality in which even the tiniest hint of Russian intervention - above all in the territory of the former USSR - can be interpreted by the West as a malicious attack on the eternal value of democracy. And what follows, as we know, is sanctions. In such a situation it's better not to annoy one's partners. No doubt Moscow didn't intend to intervene anyway. Even the rhetoric intended for domestic consumption of those who fiercely oppose the 'colour revolutions' would have attracted attention and provided a basis for accusations. And we already have enough problems to deal with.” (HU) /

Protecting budding friendship with Ankara

Russia is exercising restraint in Armenia to avoid antagonising Turkey, believes:

“Tensions between Armenia and Turkey could jeopardise the Syria agreement that Russia and Turkey want to push Iran to sign. ... At the start of April a demonstrative meeting between Putin, Erdoğan and Rouhani took place in Ankara. Russian-Turkish relations haven't been as close as they are now for perhaps centuries. Ever since the coup against Erdoğan in 2016 they have steadily improved. This budding Russian-Turkish friendship is important for Moscow because it enables the latter to embrace the second strongest Nato member state after the US. An Armenian-Turkish conflict could destroy all that. ... That's why the Kremlin wants peace in Armenia.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

Sargsyan has shown true magnanimity

Journalist Anton Orech praises Sargsyan's decision to resign in Echo of Moscow newspaper:

“Sargsyan is a good person and I would shake his hand if I met him. Because he had the choice between stepping down or using violence. Power clouds leaders' judgement. In their efforts to cling to power they can make the most stupid mistakes. Sargsyan didn't cross that line, meaning that there is more good than bad in him. Clearly there is plenty of the latter too, otherwise 160,000 people wouldn't have marched against him in a country with just three million inhabitants. What goes on in Armenia isn't really our concern but there are so many parallels with Russia: former Soviet citizens live there. And Armenia is one of Russia's few allies. And in Russia the state authorities fear nothing as much as they fear street protests.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Russia has a hand in the goings on

Moscow is interfering in events, Cumhuriyet surmises:

“In view of the fact that the soldiers joined the swelling protest, the question is whether the next step will be made by the military. The Armenian army is kept under stringent control by Russia and it is highly unlikely that it would take any action without Russia's blessing. As the pressure from the street was steadily increasing, Sargsyan first clung to Russia's arm and then resigned. Because he had become the country's biggest instability factor.”

Lietuvos žinios (LT) /

Armenia is not a free society

Lietuvos žinios describes the main features of Sargsyan's rule in Armenia:

“One can't compare the situation in Armenia with the lengthy rule of the Social Democrats in Sweden or with that of Merkel, who has now become German chancellor for the fourth time. In democratic states no politician can wield such enormous influence over the state authorities, the judiciary and the media while at the same time remaining immune to criticism and enjoying widespread popularity. ... . That's only possible in countries where democracy and the rule of law exist only on paper and elections are no more than a formality. Moscow, for example, has taken a similar path.”