Armenia: First Anniversary of Bloody Post-Election Clash

Thousands took to the streets of Yerevan on Sunday to remember last year’s post-election unrest in Armenia which left eight civilians and two policemen dead. With some opposition activists still behind bars, Armenia’s government is widely accused of doing little to investigate the clashes properly.

An A1Plus video of the start of the March 1, 2009 commemoration-protest

Unzipped, a moderate pro-opposition blogger, remembers the events of last year.

1 year on… We have yet to hear from the Armenian authorities a simple “Sorry” and “My condolences” for all 10 people who died on 1 March 2008…


Ditord was concerned a few weeks ago that the commemoration might not be so peaceful.

[…] [L]ooks like we’re in for an unsanctioned rally on March 1. Let’s hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst…

Fortunately, as Global Voices Online's Caucasus editor wrote on the Frontline Club blog, the day ended peacefully.

[…] security was high with reports of some roads into the capital being blocked by police and busloads of riot police parked close to the presidential palace. Water cannon trucks were also to be seen close to the Yerevan opera although police were not decked out in riot gear at the Matenadaran itself.


With the exception of one brief moment of tension when a crack squad of special police forces intervened in some incident during the march, the day passed without incident. […]

The blog of A1Plus [AM], a banned pro-opposition TV station, agrees and offers its own observation.

[…] ըստ ընդհանուր պատկերի, առանձնահատուկ զսպվածությամբ էին գործում ինչպես հանրահավաքի մասնակիցները, այնպես էլ ոստիկանության աշխատակիցները:

[…] With the big picture, both the protest participants and the police members demonstrated unique self-restraint.

But Mark Grigorian [Ru], an Armenian journalist in exile, reminds his readers that many questions remain unanswered.

– Насколько конституционным было объявление чрезвычайного положения?

– Использовалась ли армия против демонстрантов (использование армии внутри страны противоречит Конституции)?

– Кто приказал стрелять?

– Кто стрелял?

– Кто убил?

– Какова степень личной ответственности разных людей из обоих лагерей в случившемся и, в первую очередь, в гибели людей.

– Какова степень институтциональной ответственности властей и оппозиции в случившемся?

- How much constitutional was the state of emergency?

- Were army forces [in addition to riot police] used against demonstrators (is it constitutional for army to go against its citizens)?

- Who ordered to shoot?

- Who shot?

- Who killed?

- What [was the] degree of a private responsibility of different people from both camps in what happened and, especially, in the destruction of people?

- What degree of institutional responsibility did the authorities and the opposition have in what happened?

Later in the day, Unzipped made a second post on the 1 March 2008 violence:

Despite unprecedented tragic consequences, restrictions of civil liberties, political prisoners, the movement had resulted in some important positive developments. It was an awakening for the society in hibernation for more than a decade. Number of genuine, albeit small, civil groups and initiatives were developed, particularly among youth, aimed at democratisation of our society.

For me, one of the main positive outcomes of the movement was the fact that Armenian government, authorities, started paying more attention to public opinion. […]


  • The action of protest was near the Matenadaran. There were lots of people(about 50000). There only the first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan spoke. He spoke nearly for 45 minutes, then all the people went to statue Myasnikyan. These people want Levon Ter-Petrosyan to be our president. I think that people are really very angry with the president Serge Sargsyan. In my oppinion, people want to change the situation in the country and also they want to change their lives for better. It may happen only if all the people fight for their rights together.

  • Tigran,

    All blogs will be quoted if they have something to add, but there’s nothing on there. Most you mention don’t even mourn the death of 10 people and are simply being used for political purposes.

    Well, maybe that was a mistake. Perhaps there should have been something like:

    “Despite the loss of 10 lives on 1March which shocked Armenia and the world, a group of pro-government bloggers instead ignored the controversial handling by police and made small anti-opposition posts intended to push the government line.”

    Meanwhile, Simon didn’t quote any of the propaganda blogs from the opposition which also didn’t really provide much information either.

    And that’s what this boils down to — the blogs you mention, including yours, are pro-government propaganda blogs which didn’t mark the 1 March anniversary in any significant way.

    Sorry, but that’s how I see it. If you want to be quoted, perhaps some more useful contemplative commentary would be better than regurgitating pro-government propaganda.

    Meanwhile, as I point out, your posts don’t fit with this one, just as those made by the pro-opposition propaganda posts don’t either. Well done, Simon, you filtered out the noise.

  • ozer

    Well the problem in armenia and in ex-soviet republics is that the democracy is not digested..Therefore the tension is high,the change of governments is difficult..
    For example In Turkey,we can watch Aztv..In the morning it starts with howmuch good leader Haydar Aliyev is in midtime how good the charity organisations that Mihriban aliyeva started is at night howmuch great leader İlham Aliyev is…It is funny and strange..Do you think Aliyev can leave the government?
    In armenia specifically,I believe that the real problem is that Armenia has dependent relations with Russia due to known reasons..With Turkey closed border with azerbaijan war,with georgia problemetic..
    With Good relations with Russia Armenia become more than a Russia dependent colony..Only relation that makes breath shall be with Iran..
    Second the intellecctual resserves of Armenia outside armenia is very high but their effords are also moving armenia backward because they dont live local difficulties of armenia and they are mostly very nationalist..
    In short in armenia current nationalist government can not change easily,no opposition can grow, if a such thing that opposition has some success the government will use everything soft and hard as power and will control everything…So voice of government controlled medias one sided one dimensional views will ve heard very loud….
    I wish good luck to opposition but it is really very difficult if not impossible…

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