Hundreds of youngsters and concerned citizens have taken to the streets in Armenia’s capital Yerevan to protest the appointment of Serj Sargsyan, the country’s outgoing president, as leader-for-life.
Mr. Sargsyan has acted as president for the last ten years, despite widespread electoral fraud in his two elections of 2008 and 2013. His presidency has been nothing short of disastrous for Armenia: corruption is rampant, the economy is struggling, growth is weighed down by massive external borrowing, the environment has been eroded by mining, the judiciary has lost any semblance of independence, and emigration — especially of the educated youth — has grown to alarming proportions.
Following a fraudulent referendum in 2015, Mr. Sargsyan changed the Constitution and downgraded the presidency while making the republic a parliamentary one, with real powers vested in an unelected Prime Minister. In his characteristic Machiavellian fashion, he now intends to have himself appointed to the Premiership by a parliament that he controls so that he can continue his misrule indefinitely.
The hundreds of young Armenians protesting yesterday are doing what they can to prevent this from happening, but without outside support and the solidarity of progressive forces in Europe, their efforts will be doomed — and Armenia will face many more years of kleptocratic rule, corruption and poverty.
We at DiEM25 must stand in solidarity with these youngsters who seek a future they can believe in — a future that is not built around an elite serving itself and destroying the many. Their voices must be heard and respected.
Tigran is a member of DiEM25 living in Cyprus
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