Armed group that took hostages in Yerevan urges people to 'go out to the streets'

Susanna Petrosyan, Yerevan. Exclusively for Vestnik Kavkaza
Armed group that took hostages in Yerevan urges people to 'go out to the streets'

On the morning of July 17, a group of armed men seized a regiment of the police patrol and inspection service in Yerevan and demanded the resignation of Armenian authorities. The supporters of oppositionist Zhirayr Sefilyan who was arrested on June 20 and is accused of organizing a criminal group have announced about "their intention to change the situation in Armenia" by way of an "armed uprising". The CivilNet newspaper said this group released a video in which they say: "Dear friends, citizens, Armenian nation, it has begun, we are doing this for you... Go out to the streets!" One policeman was killed and two were injured.

Political scientist Arman Gevorgyan answered Vestnik Kavkaza's questions about possible reasons for this situation and future development of events. 

- Today, some observers do not rule out the possibility that the government or even President Serzh Sargsyan might be the author of "this trick".

- I have no information that could confirm this version.

- Was this move of Sefilyan's supporters expected? 

- First of all, Sefilyan and his supporters have always threatened to take decisive actions. I think that the law enforcement agencies monitored the dynamics of these statements and the behavior of their authors. But the main hope of these authors probably lies in the possibility that the society will support them. Meanwhile, the society simply won't support this kind of actions. It believes that radical appeals and such steps lead to unnecessary shocks. In other words, society is not willing to act outside the framework of the law. Yes, there is great dissatisfaction with the ruling administration. Perhaps there are people that were arrested for not so convincing reasons. But despite society's great dissatisfaction with authorities, people won't accept unconstitutional methods. Society wants to resolve numerous problems through political means - through elections. That is why no one supports the actions of Sefilyan's supporters, no one will go to the streets.

- So society does not like these extremist and radical steps?

- Yes. Perhaps Lebanon native, Zhirayr Sefilyan, is trying to extrapolate approaches that exist in Arab society on the Armenian reality. Meanwhile, our society does not accept and does not want to use such approaches. 

- The opposition, which is usually very active in cases of arrest of certain opposition members, did not show particular activity after the arrest of Sefilyan. Its behavior can even be called restrained. 

- Sefilyan's supporters were caught with weapons. If they found weapons, than it is natural that the opposition is extremely wary of the "Sefilyan case". This is the political opposition that demands the resignation of authorities, they don't use weapons.

- The territory of patrol and inspection service was seized, hostages were taken. What are the possible options in this situation?

- I think that there are two options: the negotiations, through which the authorities will try to convince the armed group to surrender. And if they won't surrender, the issue will be resolved by force.

- Is it possible that indifference of citizens to the current situation can be explained by the fact that Sefilyan is not such a big figure in the political field of Armenia? 

- What Sefilyan wants? To overthrow Serzh Sargsyan by military means during the time, when situation on the contact line in Nagorno Karabakh and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border is tense and no one know how will it develop?