Aghasi Yenokian - Ruling Party Power Grabs | Early Elections | Judiciary Concerns | Ալտերնատիվ Պատմություն Հայոց | Ep 298, Dec. 14, 2023 [EP298]

Posted on Thursday, Dec 14, 2023 | Category: Armenia | Series: cog



  • Ruling Party Power Grabs
    • Why is Civil Contract so Adamant on Total Municipal Control
    • Political Prisoners
  • Early/Snap Elections?
  • Armenia’s Controlled Judiciary
  • About Yenokian’s new book: Ալտերնատիվ պատմություն Հայոց

Episode 298 | Recorded: December 13, 2023

Show Notes

Ruling Party Power Grabs


Back in 2021 Aprelu Yerkir was able to garner enough votes in the elections to install Arkadi Tamazyan as the mayor of the region, which includes Alaverdi and a dozen or so townships. In order to succeed, Aprelu Yerkir struck an alliance with Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National Congress (ANC, or HAK) to gain a one seat majority in the city council. This was a serious setback for Pashinyan, and Civil Contract.

In July one Aprelu Yerkir councilman (Simon Zakharov) defected to Civil Contract and caused a loss of quorum in the city council. Long story short, Pashinyan’s party was able to use this defection to replace Tamazyan with Civil Contract’s Davit Ghumashyan.

In Armenia’s third largest city, Vanadzor, Mamikon Aslanyan was jailed on charges of corruption after being elected mayor and defeating Civil Contract in 2021. Two years later he’s still in jail, replaced by a Civil Contract member, whom Pashinyan was empowered to appoint through a parliamentary bill in April 2022.


There have been other instances around the country since 2021 including in Goris, Meghri, Akhurian, Agarak, where post-election results have been co-opted towards ruling party control.

In October 2021 there were municipal elections in Gyumri. In a humongous surprise, the Balasanyan alliance, which got first place but not majority, decided to enter a power-sharing deal not with the Republican Party, nor the Zartonk party, nor Aprelu Yerkir (all of which can be seen as oppositional). Instead, Balasanyan went into a power-sharing deal with Civil Contract, against whom it was campaigning.

Well, now, about 2 years later, Civil Contract announced last week that they will be annulling that power sharing deal. It remains to be seen what the result of this action will be, but many speculate that Civil Contract will continue to use pressure to trigger a vote of no confidence. Mayor Balasanyan has so far refused to step down.


  • What is going on in this country?
  • Why isn’t the opposition focusing on municipal elections?

Early/Snap Elections

While the Civil Contract party officially denies it, there are persistent rumors that Pashinyan is planning to trigger early elections in Armenia. Some analysts point to the intensity of Civil Contract meetings around the country as one piece of evidence of preparations for elections. This is the reason, some say, that Pashinyan is also trying to take absolute control over local municipalities.


  • Is Pashinyan preparing for early snap elections? Why? What does he gain from this?
  • We learned over the past weekend that Aliyev is also pushing for snap elections in February, 2024, a year and a half ahead of schedule. What do you think about “trend” in the South Caucasus, and what do you think it is related to?

Armenia’s Controlled Judiciary

Over the past 5 years the ruling party has replaced all but a handful of the 350+ judges in the country. They’ve replaced the judges on the Constitutional Court, and they have taken complete control of the Supreme Judicial Council.

Also, Armenia is known to have dozens of political prisoners. Opposition members and elected officials are languishing in jails while their cases crawl through a court system that is heavily partisan and manipulated.


  • While Tamazian and Aprelu Yerkir are saying that they plan to appeal the Alaverdi City Council decisions, is there any expectation that they can win in court when the Armenian judicial system is completely subservient to Civil Contract?
  • What options are available to the opposition in Armenia for fair outcomes in a failing democracy?

Yenokian’s New Book

As Yenokian’s new book Ալտերնատիվ պատմություն Հայոց is now available, Hovik asks Aghasi to talk about it.


All right, that’s our show, we hope you found it useful. Please find us on Social Media and follow us everywhere you get your Armenian news, the links are in the show notes. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts. We’ll talk to you soon!


Aghasi Yenokyan

Aghasi Yenokyan

Aghasi Yenokyan is the former director of the Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) Azatutyun office in Yerevan. He is a research fellow at Columbia University in Post-Soviet Studies, and a former lecturer at Yerevan State University. He has studied political theories at the University of Chicago, public policy at Arizona State University. He is a graduate from Yerevan State University’s Physics Department, and has also earned an MBA from the American University of Armenia.


Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Hovik Manucharyan on the ANN/Groong podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer or any other organization.

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