Russian Armenians against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan
By Roza Asgarova
The trilateral statement signed by the heads of state of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia on November 10, 2020, caused numerous protests among Armenians against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The Armenian diaspora, in support of their compatriots, began criticizing the current government of the Republic of Armenia. Thus, although the organizations belonging to the Armenian diaspora didn’t immediately issue statements blaming the Prime Minister for signing the document, with time, the criticisms began to grow. In addition, some of the Diaspora representatives and organizations ceased the collection of funds, which were regularly sent as financial assistance to Armenia and the so-called regime created by Armenians in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, stating that they intend to restart funding if Nikol Pashinyan resigns.
The head of the Armenian Union in Russia (Союз Армян России), Ara Abramyan, held an emergency meeting with the heads of regional departments of the organization on November 10, 2020, as a result of which on November 11 he harshly criticized the Prime Minister and called on him to resign. Representatives of the Armenian Union responded negatively to Nikol Pashinyan’s explanation for the signing of the statement unfavorable for the country, accusing him of making numerous concessions, spreading false information, and giving empty promises to Armenians all over the world. Consequently, Armenians living in Russia started protesting against the Prime Minister.
The visit of Nikol Pashinyan to Moscow on January 11, 2021, and the following meeting with the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, severely displeased the Armenian Diaspora. Chairman of the Armenian Union in Russia, Ara Abramyan, sent an open letter to the Prime Minister of Armenia on January 8, 2021. In the letter, Ara Abramyan accused Nikol Pashinyan of abusing the people's trust, saying that the Armenian people expected the Prime Minister to resign rather than sign a new document, that, according to Abramyan, the Prime Minister was not authorized to do. On the same day, representatives of Armenian organizations in Russia met in the building belonging to the Armenian Union and called on diaspora members to express their views by signing a petition prepared by the organization's representatives in front of the Armenian Embassy in Russia on January 11, 2021, from 12:00 to 14:00. According to the text of the petition, Armenian diaspora representatives called on Prime Minister to resign, disclose the content of "all the oral and written agreements" he made with the Azerbaijani side, restrain from signing any further documents, and suspend the implementation of the tripartite agreement dated November 10, 2020.
Moscow Armenians hung posters with the images of the Prime Minister calling him a "traitor" over the windows of their cars, walls of the buildings and etc. On January 11, 2021, a protest of the Armenian Diaspora was held in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Moscow. Diaspora representatives called on the Prime Minister to resign immediately and to abstain from attendance at the meeting.
Despite this, a substantial number of Armenians still defended Nikol Pashinyan, causing a conflict between the diaspora members. Stepan Safaryan, who was appointed the chairman of the Public Council of Armenia in 2019 by the initiative of Nikol Pashinyan, condemned the protest organized by the Armenian Union in Russia on social networks, which initiated numerous mutual accusations between the parties. It should be noted that Stepan Safaryan mocked the Armenians of Russia on his Facebook page for their intention to hold a protest rally, posting a false date of the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow in order to create confusion. This caused a harsh reaction of the diaspora, including representatives of the Armenian Union. Thus, in a statement issued by the organization, Nikol Pashinyan's supporters were accused of trying to gain fame by supporting him.
On January 14, 2021, the visit to Moscow of the spouse of Nikol Pashinyan, Anna Hakobyan and her daughter, Mariam Pashinyan, was also sharply criticized by representatives of the Armenian diaspora. The main reason was the spread of rumors that Prime Minister’s family members intend to obtain the citizenship of the Russian Federation, which led to a further exacerbation of the situation. Officials from the Federal Security Service who accompanied them had to force the airport to close.
Representatives of the diaspora also accused the Prime Minister of Russophobia and criticized the Armenian people's support for his policy.
It should be noted that before the signing of the trilateral agreement, the Armenian Union in Russia and the Armenian diaspora in general unanimously supported the "My Step" party and its leader Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power after the so-called "Velvet revolution". Thus, despite the fact that the chairman of the organization Ara Abramyan now supports the former government of Armenia, in a letter to Nikol Pashinyan after his election as Prime Minister, he expressed hope that the new government will carry out socio-economic reforms for the benefit of all Armenians. All those facts show that the 44-day war and the resulting trilateral agreement led to the polarization among the members of the Armenian diaspora. This means that the diaspora, which always promoted Armenian issues and provided assistance to Armenia, is experiencing a significantly decreased confidence in the government.
Roza Asgarova, an advisor at the Center of Analysis of International Relations in Baku, Azerbaijan, special for News.Az