Despite the strange weather, rain for five minutes and muted sunshine for ten more, a sizable crowd gathered in Liberty Square to hear Raffi. The sound system was a lot better today and his voice boomed throughout the square, lambasting his critics while acknowledging recent “mistakes,” poor judgement or however you want to describe it. He seemed more strong willed than ever before.
I was most impressed with the remarks his wife Armenouhi made. I wasn’t aware on that tumultuous night of April 9 she had been knocked down by the riot police and momentarily lost conscious, and when she came to she realized one of her shoes was missing, so she marched about barefoot for the rest of the evening. The tears that many saw in her eyes were not from pain, but for the policemen, who are essentially very young men as was made obvious in a recent photostory on Hetq and who were simply following orders, against their own will. I also cannot fault them for essentially doing their job, although no certainly one deserved to be bashed around and thrown to the ground. Having said that, there clearly were policemen, especially those in plain clothing, who were particularly cruel and unjustifiably callous in the way they handled the student protesters earlier in the day as amateur video footage revealed so candidly.
A week from now on April 9 a summit is planned at the Ani Hotel where political organizations, intellectuals and civil groups will devise a plan about how to move forward. It’s a step in the right direction.
He didn’t touch upon his curious trip to Moscow on Thursday, not that he would, but that’s not actually important. What matters is that this movement continues to gather strength, despite the pitfalls it inevitably faces yet manages to rebound each and every time. That seems to be what’s happening, although I have read and heard from many in the last several weeks that “Raffi’s not a leader.” Naturally, no one could ever expand upon that or give an example of what a leader in Armenia should be. Like him or not, he clearly is one, and conscious Armenian citizens have faith in him. They are counting on him to deliver an Armenia that is full of promise, one where the rule of law functions and equal opportunity exists for all. What right does anyone have to discourage them?
At tonight’s rally there were noticeably fewer people in attendance, perhaps a few thousand at the most. While walking through the crowd I discerned just how much people have become frustrated. Many kept demanding that change be made now rather than later, and asking “How?” whenever Raffi said that they would be victorious. The continuing comments transformed into mild heckling, and after a speech of about 30 minutes Raffi announced that on their way to Tsitsernakabert they would walk past the presidential palace on Baghramyan Street. Continue reading The Turning Point?→
The Armenian police prevented Raffi Hovanissian and a pack of demonstrators from progressing along a specific route. Eventually he backed down and the march came to an end, but the 6:00 pm rally is still on.
This afternoon, despite what many were anticipating, Raffi Hovanissian did not give his oath to the presidency before the Armenian public. Instead, he recited a pledge that the crowd of Barevolution supporters, copies of the constitution in hand, repeated, verse by verse. The rhetoric of his speech was the same–power to the people, the country belongs to the people, the people will all be victorious, the corrupt, dishonest leaders of Armenia will answer to the people in Liberty Square, yadda yadda yadda.
At the last rally held on March 22 Raffi Hovannisian read a list of demands from the president, all admirable but unrealistic since he feels empowered and unstoppable.
President Sargsyan has already been congratulated by Russia, Europe and the U.S. on his “reelection,” and his arrogance shined last week when he claimed that the movement had only 3,000 supporters by his estimate judging only by the crowds at Liberty Square, apparently ruling out support coming from others around the country and even the world who cannot physically be at the rallies. Essentially Raffi demands new presidential elections to be held, or else he wants to hand pick candidates for several ministries and state offices, not to mention having all those guilty of election fraud arrested, including village mayors and regional governors. Continue reading Notes on the Barevolution Rally, March 22→