During last month a crowd of people, most of them under 30 and supported at the same time by the oldest people of society, have closed one of the main avenues of Yerevan. Set on the surface of the protest was the claim against the raise of electricity prices implemented by the Armenian government, however, a deeper analysis down to the roots of this movement indicates that something beyond the question of electricity costs is going on.
The occupation of Baghramian avenue shows both the need of new and fresher air for the country and the fact that there are people willing to bring it, especially after the big flow of migration started after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when many citizens leave Armenia trying to find a better future abroad.
However, if there is something that the events in Baghramian have shown is nothing but the existence of a generation that, despite keeping in mind the potential chances of improvement through migration, are not willing to leave their country adrift. They are determined to get involved in the future of their society and eager to take part in the process of development. In this particular case, due to the protests, the government of Serzh Sargsyan has decided, if not to revoking the increase of the 17% in the electricity bill, to bear the costs until an audit of ENA determines whether the hike is justified.
A precedent of peaceful protests.
The people have left Baghramian Avenue, but it has worked as a hint of the willingness of a representative part of the Armenian society. The demonstration, even though the assistance has been a few thousands of people, was backed up and supported by most of the population.
Something that is specially complicated in a country where the soviet mentality is still ingrained in some sectors. The demonstrators have been well organised, keeping all the time a civilized way of protests in permanent respect, in spite of isolated altercations with the security forces, and leaving clear what is the nature of the movement.
The first attempt of the government to break up protests left a toll of 237 detained and did nothing but congregate more people for the subsequent journeys. Fortunately, the movement has been peaceful all the time, an attitude that will be key for the future in the case of demonstrations.
The electric price rise has not been revoked, it has merely been frozen and the people has, perhaps temporally, left Baghramian Avenue. But the manifestation has passed the level of practical issues to point out the discomfort of many people with the current policy-making of Armenia and, above all, their will to take part in the process of running a country.
Alejandro Jalon, EVS volunteer of “Young Citizens of Armenia” project
Reference for the photo