Could you fall in love with radical?

By Vestnik Kavkaza
Zhirayr Sefilyan

Today is the third day of an armed rebellion in Yerevan. The negotiations on the settlement of the situation relating to the seizure of the patrol regiment building in the capital of Armenia are continuing. About 200 people have been detained already on suspicion of the links with the armed group that seized the police station. The supporters of the leader of the civil initiative ‘Constituent Parliament’, Zhirayr Sefilyan, who was arrested on June 22nd for the illegal possession of weapons,  demand his release. In June the charges were brought against another eight his supporters. The criminal proceedings were instituted, and it was found out that after four days of the April confrontation over Nagorno-Karabakh, ‘’Sefilyan with a group of people planned to capture buildings and means of communication, including the Yerevan TV Tower.’’

Sefilyan's wife then said that the political persecution related to his harsh denunciations of the authorities, thanks to the policy of which Armenia is being emptied, was carried out in respect of her husband. More then that, the political persecution intensified after the April war, when Sefilyan accused the authorities in the loss of the territory of 800 hectares. After the arrest of Sefilyan the investigators said that the group he headed was going to seize buildings, but it remains unclear for what purpose - the plotters did not have any resources for a coup.

Sefilyan as a political figure has neither influence, nor weight. He is a citizen of Lebanon, which does not allow him to expand the political activities in Armenia, first of all, he can not participate in the electoral processes. Sefilyan  repeatedly appealed to the authorities to receive the Armenian citizenship, but each time he was refused. He also applied for a citizenship of the Nagorno-Karabakh, but there he was refused as well. In the mid-2000s the country's leadership  tried unsuccessfully to deport Sefilyan for the radicals calls for change of the power. But his wife works in the Lebanese Embassy, ​​and Sefilyan himself is considered as a member of a diplomat family, which also would have been deported. Sefilyan was born in Beirut in 1967, he grew up during the civil war in Lebanon, in which he, like many of his Armenian counterparts, participated in one of the groups created by the nationalist radical organization Dashnaktsutiun. Since the beginning of the military conflict in Karabakh, he went there as a volunteer. According to Vzglyad, Sefilyan headed the so-called Shushi special battalion, which is closely associated with the Dashnaks. After the complitioon of the hot phase of the conflict Sefilyan was in consistent opposition to all the presidents of Armenia, fearing that they can go to any concessions to Azerbaijan. He has always advocated a military solution to the Karabakh problem, as well as for the withdrawal of the Russian military base in  Gyumri from Armenia.

Sefilyan tried to transform last year's protests against the increase of electricity tariffs into a revolution. Yerevan then had a fever for a long time. The protesters blocked Baghramyan Avenue, where the buildings of the presidential administration, the parliament, the Constitutional Court and a number of embassies are located. But the protesters did not turn into a crowd. The experts said that, despite of some differences that existed, the organizers of the action could not turn it into a "Maidan", although the demonstrations turned into a field for competition of different political and social movements. However, post-Soviet Armenia knows not only cases of political street protests against the government, but also acts of terrorism. In autumn 1999 the attack on the Armenian parliament by the radical Nairi Hunanyan resulted in eight people killed, including Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and the parliamentary speaker Karen Demirchian.

The radicalism present in Armenian society would sooner or later lead to such a phenomenon, the director of the Caucasus Institute and political scientist Alexander Iskandaryan said, commenting to the agency ‘Novosti-Armenia’ on yesterday's seizure of the police building in Yerevan. There are quite radicalized moods in Armenia, which reject the whole political system in general, the legitimacy of everything that is present in the country - the elections, the president, the parliament, political parties, including the opposition ones. We can assume that sooner or later the radical rhetoric will turn to attempts at radical actions and violence.

It is known that the Armenians do not have a habit of obeying those in power just because the power is consolidated in their hands now. At ine time President Levon Ter-Petrosyan was considered a hero, but it did not help him keep the control levers. In 1998, under pressure from the war party represented by Robert Kocharyan, Vazgen Sargsyan and the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan, the consistent supporter of a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Ter-Petrosyan, was forced to resign.

It's no coincidence that, after the four-day confrontation in April in the conflict zone, the name of the radical marginal Sefilyan started to be heard. In April the armed clashes were stopped due to the call by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan. The active phase of negotiations on the settlement of the conflict started then. It was intensified by the numerous trips of the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, to Yerevan and Baku, where he met with the Foreign Ministers and Presidents. Recently talks between Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry were held in Moscow, the purpose of which was to work out a common program of action to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The parties came to an understanding of the need for the gradual establishment of peaceful relations between the two countries.

However, though recent events have shown that the people have not supported the war party, not everyone in Armenia has understood yet that only peace talks can be a key to the solution of the Karabakh problem. It is time for the supporters of Sefilyan to understand that the status quo does not guarantee a peaceful solution to the conflict. The peace and lifting of the economic blockade may be the foundation of the development of Armenia and Karabakh. No investors, including the businessmen from the Armenian Diaspora, will invest big money in the development of unstable and controversial areas. It is necessary to find a way out of the state of hostility and confrontation for Armenia and Karabakh to get out of the deepest economic crisis. The preservation of the conflict, which is advocated by the representatives of the party of war, will only increase the hatred, chaos and economic problems of the region.

ФОТО Zhirayr Sefilyan