Participant of protest rally in Yerevan is being detained, March 14, 2019. Photo by Tigran Petrosyan for the Caucasian Knot

16 March 2019, 17:51

Analysts exclude political context from conflict around cafés in Yerevan

Opponents of the new authorities are trying to give a political colouration to the protests against the demolition of cafés in Yerevan, but in reality it does not exist, the political analysts interviewed by the "Caucasian Knot" believe. They blame the city Mayoralty for the escalation of the conflict.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on March 14, in accordance with the decision of the Yerevan City Mayoralty, two cafes on Freedom Square were dismantled, despite the protests of the cafe owners and employees. Four persons were injured in clashes between the protesters and the police. 41 protesters were detained, and 25 of them were released by the police by the end of the day. One policeman lost his job after a video showing how he was beating an opponent of the cafe demolition appeared on the Internet.

Nikol Pashinyan's recent statement that problems would no longer be solved by force concerns political processes, while the demolition of cafés is an economic problem, the responsibility for which is borne by the city authorities and the Mayor of Yerevan personally, said Armen Badalyan, a political strategist. At the same time, groups associated with the former authorities are trying to politicize the problem, he told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent.

The café conflict has no political implications, but it is possible that opponents to demolition might see it, said Boris Navasardyan, the head of the Yerevan Press Club. "For many years, political factors and authorities' patronage were decisive in the Armenian market. People find it difficult to believe that the situation has changed dramatically. And this, apparently, the main problem that the Armenian authorities are facing: to show that their motives are different from those enjoyed by the previous government," Mr Navasardyan has stressed.

Armen Vardanyan, a political expert from the Armenian Institute of International Affairs and Security, also sees no political motives in the authorities' decision of demolition. "Otherwise, we would have faced a selective approach, which cafe to demolish and which not. However, the Mayor has assured that all the cafés in question will be demolished. The process is politicized, as owners of some cafés are affiliated with this or that political force. In particular, the owners of one of them are from the ARF 'Dashnaktsutyun'," he told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent, adding that the owners of another café celebrated Nikol Pashinyan's election as Prime Minister in May 2018, which is another evidence of the absence of political motives in the demolition.

This article was originally published on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’ on March 16, 2019 at 08:17 am MSK. To access the full text of the article, click here.

Author: Tigran Petrosyan, Armine Martirosyan; Source: CK correspondents

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