Armenia. In January, a family of six people was shot to death by a Russian soldier near a military base in Armenia. The incident triggered upset feelings among Armenians protesting outside the Russian embassy in Yerevan, which worried the Armenian government. The Russian Federation is Armenia’s only ally in the southern Caucasus and has about 3,000 soldiers at its base in Gjumri.
Crowds gathered for the funeral of the victims, and in Yerevan, upset protesters tried to burn the Russian flag but were prevented by police. The protests grew when it became known that the perpetrator would be brought to justice in the Russian Federation. Several people were injured in violence and police arrested protesters. According to COUNTRYAAH, Yerevan is the capital of Armenia which is located in Western Asia. The soldier was later sentenced in the Russian Federation to prison for offenses in the service, but would then be tried in Armenia for the murders.
In February, members of the opposition party A Successful Armenia (BHK) were arrested after President Serzh Sarkisian declared that party leader Gagik Tsarukyan was “evil” and had to step away from politics. The arrested were charged with possession of weapons. BHK boycotted Parliament’s work in protest, but in March Tsarukyan resigned as party leader.
The conflict with Azerbaijan over the Armenian breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh reached its most violent level since the end of the war in 1994. Firing at the border increased, both sides used artillery and other heavy weapons. In the first quarter, 31 people were killed, and this year’s death toll was expected to exceed the previous year’s 72 dead.
In April, Armenia celebrated the 100th anniversary of the genocide of about one million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. At a ceremony in the capital Yerevan, among others, was the Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. The Armenian Church sanctified all the victims of the genocide. Before the commemoration, President Sarkisian had interrupted the sluggish peace process with Turkey, as the country did not want to classify the mass murder of Armenians as genocide. Several Armenian opposition leaders who planned protests against the government ahead of the 100th anniversary were arrested by police.
In June, street protests erupted in Yerevan when the Russian-owned electricity monopoly announced that electricity prices would rise sharply. Several thousand people were met by gun police with water cannons, and hundreds were arrested.
President Sarkisian promised that the state would be responsible for raising the electricity price until an audit of the electricity company was done. At the same time, the Russian Federation promised large loans to Armenia for the purchase of Russian weapons. The opposition protested against Armenia’s increased dependence on the Russian Federation and participation in armor with Azerbaijan, which also bought Russian weapons.
In July, the demonstrations resumed and some activists demanded regime change. There was a dissatisfaction with Armenia from January joining the Euro-Asian Economic Union led by the Russian Federation together with Kazakhstan and Belarus and later also Kyrgyzstan.
In September, protests against electricity prices continued. In addition, demonstrations were held against proposed amendments to the Constitution, where the president’s power would be weakened and the prime minister’s increase. The Sarkisian was accused of trying to retain his power in this way by becoming head of government when his presidential term expires. Parliament decided on a referendum on the matter.