Publications of experts CACDS - Southern Caucasus

Post-revolutionary Armenia: Unite unconnected

Armenia completed an important stage in its post-revolutionary development. Extraordinary parliamentary elections were held in accordance with the standards of democracy, which was noted by international observers. In Armenia, a constitutional majority has been formed, which provides a legal opportunity for the authorities to implement radically reforms in any sphere of socio-political and economic life of the country without difficulty. 14 January 2019 year Nikol Pashinyan officially holds the post of prime minister ...

Start of gas blackmail

The new Armenian authorities inherited a field totally motivated by "friendship with Russia" in all directions where reforms are vital. This is the economy with its most important components (economic legislation, energy, trade regimes and corresponding "integration commitments"), and the judicial system with its hideous practices. Just like other areas whose reform is impossible without a proper foreign policy, security policy - without bringing all the existing legal and contractual framework in line with the interests of reform.

Even a superficial analysis of the source data for reforms indicates that over the past twenty years (which, in essence, coincided with Putin's course of resuscitation of Russian "influence" in the post-Soviet space based on vicious authoritarian "values"), the authorities in Armenia actually instigated a raider capture By the Armenian state. It concerned practically all spheres - political, economic, informational ... It was a derivative of the "metropolis" and invaded the country with a set of "commitments", without liquidation of which reforms, especially revolutionary, would simply be drowned in the swamp "expansion and deepening of friendship" with Moscow

Therefore today both Yerevan and Moscow will try to combine incompatible things. The Kremlin has a full understanding of the current situation, and everything will be done to prevent the emergence of Armenia from this marsh, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, not to give a blow to the social sentiment that is unfavorable to its "influences".

During the revolution, the new Armenian political elite tried to protect the process from the brutal interference of Moscow in every possible way. While demanding an understanding from the Kremlin that there is no question of "geopolitical reverses" on the agenda, the problem is of a purely internal nature. Everything is done within the framework of the current legislation, and violence as a political factor is unacceptable. On the other hand, actually the fact of calling "friends of Moscow" in the face of the most odious representatives of the former regime has in itself become a challenge for the Kremlin. Today, in Moscow, at least visually, they are quite responsive to this challenge, but this is only a visible calm before a rigorous reaction to the traditional imperial practices and the Kremlin's reflexes.

Moscow, for the first time, launched an instrument of gas blackmail. It would seem a little bit. January 1 gas price increased by 2019 dollars (15 to 150) for 165 in January. This is the price on the Armenian border with Georgia for the 100-percent "daughter" of the Russian gas monopolist - Gazprom Armenia. (Consumers "near the slab", however, the price is already 280 dollars). At the same time, N.Pashinyan states that the price for the population will not change, and the compensation for the price increase will not occur at the expense of either Armenian consumers or the Armenian budget.

I wonder how long this configuration will last. "Submerged from the north" the press is already actively informing that under these conditions, Gazprom will reduce investment in the economy of Armenia. Forgetting to recall that Armenia, in its essence, by contract from 2013, committed itself to provide 9-interest income to Gazprom under all circumstances. Let's also add that by this agreement Armenia guarantees Gazprom's monopoly position to 2043 year. A $ 15 discount for the period 2016-2018 succeeded in "knocking out" Gazprom's Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, who was removed from power along with President Serzh Sargsyan during the revolution. According to the initial plan, this discount should stimulate gas consumption and cover costs through increased sales. However, these hopes did not come true.

So, at the end of December 2018, Moscow "for the start" canceled the 15-dollar discount, while the negotiations are still on the background of a certain propaganda noise on the theme of "failure of power", "uncertain future", "and how do we continue to live with it?"

On the part of Yerevan, we can note the apparent desire to maintain balance and reluctance to get involved in a situation that could cause foreign policy overconsumption with Moscow. Even if Moscow provokes. In Yerevan, there is an understanding that relations with other important foreign policy actors require a basic, systematic restart and alignment with the logic of the current historical stage.

The situation for Yerevan is complicated by the unfavorable development of the situation around Iran. Tehran, after signing a historic agreement on the abolition of sanctions in 2015 year, was seriously considered as the main resource for diversifying energy supplies and even the implementation of transit opportunities in Armenia. However, Donald Trump has brought the United States out of the treaty, and the European partners have a clear-cut mood to turn off activity in the Iranian direction. Possibilities of the same interaction with Iran - even at the local level - for Armenia were neutralized even in 2006 year due to the loyalty of the former regime to "commitment" to the Russian state monopoly. When the Iranian 1600-millimeter gas pipeline on the Armenian border became "thinner" (700 mm), it excluded the possibility of receiving gas for consumption, especially for transit. In a short time and this gas pipeline in general was owned by Gazprom ...

The gas lever of pressure today has added to the problem with the secretary general of the CSTO, as well as the issue of the criminal prosecution of the second time arrested by former President Robert Kocharian. The latter is accused of overthrowing the constitutional order by involving the army in dispersing demonstrations of protest against the falsification of the results of the presidential election in 2008 year, which resulted in the death of 1 in March of 10. The issue with the secretary general of the CSTO remains unresolved, because the "allies" of Armenia on the block - Minsk and Astana - actually block the appointment of the general secretary under the quota of Armenia instead of the withdrawn general Y. Khachaturov (the quota for Armenia is fixed to 2020 year). Regarding Kocharyan, Yerevan already receives unequivocal signals from Moscow: for example, Putin congratulated the arrested R. Kocharyan (and also Serzh Sargsyan) on the New Year, wishing him "stability", which provoked silence in Yerevan ...

Nervousness of Moscow, where they are not accustomed to the "bazaar"

Between Yerevan and Moscow, against the backdrop of continuing rhetoric about "eternal friendship", systemic uncertainty is aggravated. Opponents of the new Armenian authorities, tend to artificially and demonstratively abstract from the objective reality, blatantly accuse the new team that "Because of unprofessionalism, it spoils relations with Moscow, whereas under the former regime it could not be". The foregoing demonstrates the propaganda nature and worthlessness of such argumentation, which is voiced in unison with the information sabotage of Russian propaganda.

Relations with Armenia, as well as with other post-Soviet countries, including the "allies" of the CSTO, are also being actively discussed in Moscow. Kremlin's Kremlin publication Kommersant recently shared its forecast of expectations in these relations. In the section dealing with Armenia, the publication cites "one of the Russian officials who is engaged in the Armenian direction": "Not a systemic, non-state figure, broke the firewood and brings the element of the bazaar in the interstate relations. In Armenia, the formation of a regime of personal power is alarming, since unlike Alexander Lukashenko or Nursultan Nazarbayev Pashinyan is unpredictable »...

Each word in the cited quote gives a whole layer of complexes, reflexes, stereotypes, historical and philosophical misunderstandings, in the atmosphere of which the Kremlin mechanism traditionally functions. In this thread, attention is drawn to the comparison "The personal regime of Pashinyan" with established Kremlin (as the Kremlin thinks) autocratic dictatorships in Belarus and Kazakhstan. This is due to the fact that the strengthening of power in Armenia, contrary to expectations, took place with the help of democratic rather than "Eurasian", corruption-mafia mechanisms. And this is very worrisome for Moscow, which is not accustomed to the "bazaar", when post-Soviet politicians can take steps "without respect" to everything that is called in Moscow "Russia's interests".

The new government of Armenia struck at the advance of the hopes of the fragments of the criminal-oligarchic vertical, broken revolution. At the same time, she successfully capitalized the victory of the revolution in the results of extraordinary parliamentary elections, shifting the election date from May 2019 to December 2018 year. Pashinyan's team came out in its actions on the basis of election logic, successfully marginalizing and long neutralizing all active interest groups working in the interests of the former regime.

However, the main challenge for the authorities with the onset of a new phase is the forthcoming reforms. Moscow, so far, only "acupuncture" inserts various "studs" into the wheels of the new government - the CSTO, then the price of gas, then R. Kocharyan. Considering such a level of influence is sufficient and hoping that the Pashinyan team will not get to the systemic basis of the vicious phenomena, which, braking the country in its development, served as levers of the "brotherly" influence of Moscow. It will be difficult for the Kremlin, because there are no people in the new government of Armenia who have "traditional" compromising in Moscow, there is no theft from the budget, there is no dropdown system, there is no practice of "entering into a stake" in business ...

All these are necessary but insufficient conditions for the success of the fight against corruption if there are no fundamental economic, political, legal reforms in the judicial system. Given the high demand for real change in the Armenian society, the success of reforms for the new government becomes a matter of its political survival. And here lies the real reason for the growing nervousness of Moscow, its uncertainty in relations with Armenia, which, in the new conditions of freedom of speech, can give reason not to one "bazaar," in the words of anonymous Moscow official.

Meanwhile, Yerevan and Moscow are trying to connect unconnected. However, the logic of the process puts both sides in front of reality when the course of reforms in Armenia is increasingly confronted with "friendship with Russia". And the great horror of Moscow may come a day when it will finally become clear that reforms are stronger and more promising than "friendship." Not to mention the historical precondition of this process ...

Ruben Mehrabyan expert of the Armenian Institute for International Affairs and Security, editor of the Russian-language version of "Aravot", Yerevan

Volodymyr Kopchak, Head of the Southern Caucasian Branch of the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies, Tbilisi