Interview with Armenia`s Anarchists

Question: Most Russian observers, both liberal and pro-Kremlin, include the events in Yerevan in a familiar frame of permanent "Maidan", where specific requirements, by and large, have no independent value, or are inscribed in the logic of the big geopolitical confrontation between Russia and the West. Is this true?

Answer: It was from the beginning a social protest. It was supposed to raise (electrical) tariffs by 40%, and the expenses of "Electric Networks of Armenia" (ENA), which became the cause of the accumulated debt, included payment of rent expensive cars for the management, absurd spending on advertising and legal services. This caused widespread discontent. May 20 people took to the streets to demand not to allow the tariff increase. Despite this, the Commission on Regulation of Public Services on June 17 decided to raise tariffs, but not at 40%, as previously was planned, but at 16.7%. People at that time had time to organize and to organize themselves sufficiently to not agree to these conditions, and to continue to demand the preservation of former tariffs.
After the violent dispersal on morning of June 23, the protests acquired a political character. That same evening, more than 10 thousand people took to the streets. By the time it was a protest not only against the looting and corruption (and for the abolition of the decision to raise rates), but also against the police violence and arbitrariness of the authorities.

All this time the question of the Custom`s Union, of European Union or the Russian military bases was not been discussed. There were no official statements, no slogans, which raised these issues, directly or indirectly. The slogan "We are the masters of our country", quoted so persistently in the Russian media, has long become a tradition of opposition actions, but it aims Armenian authorities, and not the Russian metropolis.

At the same time, such interest on the part of liberal and also of pro-Kremlin Russian public is quite understandable. One gets the impression that only few people are concerned about the events in Armenia, if they can not be used for own political purposes.

Such attention of foreign media caused a "defensive reaction" by the protesters, and produced the desire to do everything possible to be "properly understood" (which is pretty played into the hands of local authorities). The anti-Russian rhetoric is now deliberately suppressed, even as pro-European. As a result, every geopolitical agenda, which was already untenable in the existing conjuncture, lost every chance to exist.

Q.: Could you describe the composition of the protest?

A.: The protests are massive. Many people come from other towns of Armenia, and there are simultaneous actions in Gyumri, Vanadzor, Sisian. The groups with many various political views participate in the protests: from right-wing conservatives to the marginalized anarcho-communists and feminists. But the rightists still incomparable majority.
The coordinating group includes members of the far-right party "Ayazn" and of political movement "Constituent Assembly". In Armenia, in principle, there is no anti-authoritarian experience of organizing mass protests, particularly therefore their methods do not cause much discontent.

But we can not say that the organizational group controls the whole course of the protests. It is mainly engaged in communication with the police and journalists. However, they have big ambitions. From time to time they make something like "public debate" during which they express their proposals with loud-speaker and create the appearance of consent, using their support group.

Sometimes, though, the crowd manages to shout until being heard or to demonstrate the disagree with conclusive action.

Nobody has any substantive agenda. For all the good against all the bad, "No robbery", "Sergik, go away" (Serge Sargsyan is president Armenia, – note of translator), and all these things at the level of for a long time bored slogans. Periodically, however, there are demands to nationalize the ENA.

Q.: How the debate about a strategy of movement develop as to date? To continue to insist on the fulfillment of the requirements by the government or to refuse every negotiations with this government?

A.: To continue to insist on the fulfillment of the demands, and not to negotiate with this government. The deputy police chief and police chief of Yerevan several times offered the demonstrators to create a delegation for talks with the president. Each time this proposal was rejected by the protesters. Until now, the question is that "nothing to discuss": Either the protests continue, or the president declares live broadcast a statement on the cancellation of the decision and the preservation of the old tariffs.

Q.: What role the left plays in the movement now? How visible is your position? It find a response?

A.: On one of the actions (19 June), there was an attempt to create an autonomous anarchist bloc; the leaflets with the text of the statement were distributed. The same day, a few people from our group were detained by police in civilian outside the Freedom Square, where there was a picket (there were no other detainees until the 22nd). All flags were confiscated.

The police was trying in every possible way to incite protesters against abstract anarchists who allegedly going to withdraw the protest from the "framework of the law". The deputy police chief V. Osipyan said several times about warnings about possible provocations on the part of the anarchists.

Despite this, it was managed to attract the attention at place, and our position with demanding of the socialization of ENA got some distribution.

There were solidarity actions in Kiev, Baku, Tbilisi and Istanbul organized by local leftist groups. It was an event of internationalist solidarity, without precedents for is, until now.

Now we have on the agenda: the democratization of protest, the grassroots propaganda and expansion of the list of requirements: anti-colonial question and socialization of ENA (Note of translator: The energetic system of Armenia is controlled by Russian capital).

Source of Russian text: