Hetq visited Aknashen, a village in Armenia’s Armavir Province, where a group of men, gathered outside and playing backgammon, were discussing the political situation in the country.
They say they’re following the protests coordinated by the "My Step" and "Reject Serzh" initiatives, mainly getting information from the younger generation, who learn about the events from the Internet, since Armenian TV companies misrepresent the reality or do not provide information at all.
Rubik Vagharshakyan, one of the villagers, participated in the 1990s Artsakh War. He says that today's authorities are comfortably sitting in their chairs at the expense of people like himself.
He is convinced that there will be global changes in Armenia if the protests are nationwide, like in the early 1990s. He’s dubious about the possibility of changing the system, but he supports the youth who struggle for it.
Reacting to the speech of prime ministerial candidate Serzh Sargsyan at the National Assembly yesterday, where Sargsyan talked about recent economic growth of Armenia and number of depositors reaching one million, Rubik says: "Our country is a good place, but everybody is fed up with the authorities. People emigrate every day. Where is the economic growth? A few wealthy people grow their own business, but what about the others? Who will pay the state debt worth $7 billion? You and I, right? What’s good about it? They’re only good at talking.”
As for one million bank depositors, the villagers joke that perhaps Serzh Sargsyan confused the number of borrowers with the number of depositors, or it was about the depositors who’ve kept their money in the banks since Soviet times, which has nothing to do with the social condition of people today. Moreover, these deposits have not been received up to now.
"I do not have enough money to buy food today, how can I make a deposit? Most of the villagers have lots of debts. If you enter the village shop, you’ll see the long list of people who owe to the shop. The situation is particularly terrible in the villages. In each village, there might be a couple of people who have made a deposit,” says Rubik.
Rubik says the society is quite polarized in Armenia - there are the very rich and the poor. And the rich do not want the poor to live well and develop the economy. As an example, he refers to the officials, owning hundreds of hectares of land and greenhouses. Rubik believes It’s them who make the villagers’ product too cheap.
"The rich now do not talk about money in numbers, but only in tons. They are so illiterate that they do not know how to write one million in numbers, but they own a lot of money. People do not go out into the streets because they are disillusioned. We saw what happened: people followed Tsarukyan, and then he stepped back. People hate the present leaders, but they are disappointed with each and every one. Migration proves that," adds Rubik.
Ashot Barseghyan, another villager, doesn’t believe in the economic development claims, either. “No one thinks about the villagers; they only think about themselves. Nothing in this country will change for the better. It's only getting worse. Villagers’ products are not sold, they are cheap, is that good?" asks Ashot.
Hetq talked to several young people from Aknashen. They were planning to form groups and join the demonstrations in Yerevan. They want things to change, and not be forced to emigrate.
Note to Readers – After the National Assembly elected Serzh Sargsyan prime minister on April 17, Yelk Alliance MP Nikol Pashinyan, who spearheaded the “Im Kayl” (My Step) movement to prevent Sargsyan’s election, declared a “Velvet Revolution” to be carried out on a rotating basis. Protesters will briefly “occupy” government buildings, urging civil servants inside to join them. The intent is to disrupt the normal flow of life in downtown Yerevan, blocking traffic on major streets, and then hold evening rallies in Republic Square. Today marks the sixth day of civil disobedience in Yerevan.