May 3, 2018

Timeline: Armenia protests topple PM and empower the opposition

Protestors shout slogans and wave flags in Yerevan. Photo: Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images

Armenia's opposition leader has called for protests that have swept through the country to be suspended after the ruling party signaled it would pave the way for him to become prime minister.

Why it matters: After three weeks of demonstrations, the old order in Armenia is wobbling. "The crisis in Armenia, which has a population of only about three million people and a Russian military base on its territory, is being closely watched in Moscow," per the AP, which notes that protesters are up against "a ruling elite which is determined to hold on to power and still controls the security apparatus."

  • April 17: Serzh Sargsyan, running up against term limits after 10 years as president, pushes through constitutional changes to shift power to the prime minister and assumes that office.
  • April 23: Sargsyan resigns as prime minister following massive street demonstrations, saying, "I was wrong." Karen Karapetyan, a former prime minister and Sargsyan ally, becomes acting prime minister.
  • April 25: Protesters return to the streets after Karapetyan cancels transition talks with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, citing unacceptable "unilateral" demands.
  • April 26: Again succumbing to protests, the government announces that parliament will select a new prime minister in a special session on May 1. Pashinyan is the only candidate.
  • May 1: Parliament, controlled by Sargsyan's party, rejects Pashinyan by a 55-45 vote. Pashinyan calls for a nationwide campaign of non-violent civil disobedience.
  • May 2: "Protesters blocked some routes into Armenia's capital and a road to the airport," per the AP. Pashinyan suspends the protests after "after the governing Republican Party indicated it would support his bid to be interim prime minister," per the BBC.
  • May 8: Parliament is scheduled to hold another special section to elect an interim leader with Pashinyan — at least for now — appearing to have the support he needs.

Smart take: "Armenia's ruling party is playing a high-stakes game of chicken with the opposition. Moscow must be getting nervous and is likely ready to pounce. Let's hope the protests stay peaceful and the provocateurs are kept at bay," Michael Carpenter, director of the Penn-Biden Center and former Pentagon and NSC official tweeted on Tuesday.

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