Armenia: opposition has its way

Following a general strike and the blocking of transport routes across the country, the Armenian majority party has agreed to elect opposition protest leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country's new prime minister. The parliament had rejected his leadership on Tuesday. Commentators stress that the appointment of a new prime minister cannot replace new elections and continue to observe how Russia reacts to the crisis.

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Turun Sanomat (FI) /

New elections must be the next step

Armenia must now quickly organise new elections, Turun Sanomat stresses:

“Even if a new prime minister is elected on Tuesday, elections must be held as soon as possible to clarify the political situation. After the elections the government must take serious action to tackle the corruption, inefficient administration, cronyism and poverty that are plaguing the country. These are all problems that arose under Sargsyan's leadership. The country's economy is growing quickly but only very few are reaping the benefits of that growth.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Russia sees Armenia through a media bubble

Political scientist Karmo Tüür comments in Eesti Päevaleht on how the Armenia crisis is being covered by many Russian media:

“The oppressor's mentality is expressed in the clearest - and crudest - way in the Russian media bubble. ... The people [in Armenia] have come out in protest. Does that mean that the people are against Russia? No. ... The oppressor's world is black and white. You're either for us or against us. ... Intellectual freedom and refusing to be enslaved are unthinkable. In the eyes of the oppressor, small states - to say nothing of individuals - have neither the ability nor the moral right to be their own master. Behind all this are the interests of Soros / the Jews / the Illuminati; all talk of human rights and the freedom of opinion is just a front.”

Echo of Moscow (RU) /

Not the time for hippopotamus diplomacy

The Armenian leadership is clinging to power, Anton Orech of the Echo of Moscow observes - and draws comparisons with Russia:

“An authoritarian state never admits its mistakes. And an authoritarian state is incapable of understanding that the people are unhappy with it. Any expression of discontent is explained away with all kinds of excuses - but never its own incompetence. I am speaking now of Armenia, but it sounds as if I were talking about Russia. Indeed, authoritarian states everywhere are similar, only the peoples they rule over are different. Now, however, the main thing is that the situation in Armenia is resolved without bloodshed. And that our dumb state doesn't intervene to support the dumb Armenian state. Otherwise our dumb state, endowed as it is with all the grace of a hippopotamus, will quickly lose one of our last remaining allies - or even turn it into an enemy.”

LSM (LV) /

Like Georgia or like Azerbaijan?

Armenia is at a crossroads, the website of public TV broadcaster LSM explains:

“There are at least three potential scenarios for the future. In the first - like in neighbouring Georgia - progressive reforms will be introduced. In the second the changes will just be cosmetic and sadly everything will stay the same in the country. The third scenario would be that the screws are tightened - like in Azerbaijan, where the family of President Aliyev has long had everything under its control. ... A turning point in foreign policy is unlikely and the Armenian opposition leader has already confirmed that the state won't be leaving Moscow's sphere of influence.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Memories of Berlin in 1989 revived

In Gazeta Wyborcza journalist Anne Appelbaum compares the situation in Armenia with that in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall when border control officer Harald Jäger took the decision to open the border:

“That moment is one of the clearest illustrations of how and why street demonstrations can sometimes create political change. They can appeal to a deeper morality and thus persuade people in power to change course, to abandon a repressive regime, to stop using force. I thought of Jäger this week when the prime minister of Armenia surprised his country and resigned. ... Whatever the true reason, political demonstrations worked in Armenia for the same reason they worked in Berlin in 1989, and in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2014: because they moved a key person to question the legitimacy of the regime, even his own regime.”