Hrant Mikaelian - Tavush Protests Gain Momentum | Pashinyan Pressing Ahead With Land Concessions | Poll Results on Protests | Ep 331 - May 19, 2024 [EP331]

Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Category: Armenia, Politics, Poll | Series: wir



  • Tavush Protests Gain Momentum
  • Pashinyan Pressing Ahead with Land Concessions
  • Poll Results on Tavush Protests

Episode 331 | Recorded: May 18, 2024

Show Notes

Tavush Protests Gain Momentum

Bagrat Srbazan’s Tavush for the Homeland movement has been in Yerevan and escalating acts of civil disobedience for a week now. Tens of thousands are in the streets daily, protesting Pashinyan’s land concessions to Azerbaijan in the Tavush region.

A couple of notable aspects:

  • The pro-gov channels are mum on this, as if nothing is happening in Yerevan or around the country. This is despite the police cordoning off major areas of downtown Yerevan to keep protesters clear of Pashinyan and his meetings.
  • The international media is also quiet, although there is some coverage. But if you look at their coverage of protests in Georgia, there is really no comparison..
  • There is rising police brutality as well as hundreds of arrests. There are journalists injured, and professionals who are being fired for joining the protests. There is no reaction from the west. Again, compare this to their daily coverage with graphic images of Georgians who were injured during protests in Tbilisi.
  • Bagrat Srbazan has been openly advocating peace and love towards each and every Armenian, including the policemen.


  • Where do you see these protests heading?
  • As impressive as it is to watch Bagrat Srbazan stay positive and not get angry at Pashinyan, some experts and analysts say that revolutions never take place due to a positive agenda? What do you think about this? Is it possible for Bagrat Srbazan to unseat Pashinyan based on an agenda of reconciliation and solidarity?
  • Is there an endgame in sight?

There are varying opinions on how to successfully achieve regime change. The two main mechanisms are:

  • A vote of no confidence in Parliament
  • Forcing/pressuring Pashinyan to resign through total protests, the same way Pashinyan came to power in 2018

In fact, later in this show we will talk about a recent MPG poll. A question from that poll asked people directly how Pashinyan should be removed. And a majority preferred forcing resignation.


  • What strategy should they pursue?

Today (May 18) Bagrat Srbazan announced a large rally on the following Sunday (May 26). He has promised to reveal their further plans and a detailed program. The following Monday appears to be when things will heat up.

Russian Reaction to Tavush Protests

This week, the Russian foreign ministry weighed in on the violations of human rights in Armenian protests. Specifically, Maria Zakharova said: “Official representatives of the US and the EU literally attack the Georgian authorities every day regarding their treatment of the protesters, whereas in the context of Armenia, the West is silent.”

Hrant, your colleague from The Armenian project, Edgar Elbakyan, reminded us a couple of weeks ago that all politics (for small states) is global. We know the west is supportive of Nikol Pashinyan.


  • Does the success of the protest movement that wants to remove Nikol Pashinyan depend on sponsorship or legitimacy from world powers, including possibly Russia?

Pashinyan Presses Ahead with Land Concessions

Despite the protests, Pashinyan and his ruling circles are forging ahead with their plans to give certain Tavush villages to Azerbaijan. The same maps they are using for border delimitation explicitly mark Armenian territories under Azeri control which are not being returned to Armenia in this deal with Azerbaijan and which Pashinyan is conceding unilaterally. This makes the deal unconstitutional, because such a land concession would require a popular referendum.

Kirants village residents continue to block roads in the region, but it’s clear that the democratic process is completely broken in Armenia. In fact, even the constitutional order is broken.

Just to clarify what is happening: the government of Armenia has recognized these lands and properties as inalienable parts of sovereign Armenia. It has done so by:

  • Recognizing the votes during elections, from citizens registered at those properties
  • Giving land deeds to citizens, who now find themselves in Azerbaijan
  • Funding and repairing the strategic N-S highway and recognizing it as critical infrastructure

As we just mentioned, under the Armenian constitution any change of hands in property and land must be accomplished through a referendum. Yet, Pashinyan is unilaterally ceding these properties.


  • What recourse do these citizens have to keep their homes and villages, given that their own government is uprooting them?
  • Pashinyan says that the border delimitation is based on “the latest USSR maps” from 1976, which is what the Alma Ata declarations affirm. Does it matter what maps are being used at this point?

Poll Results on Tavush Protests

The latest poll results from MPG came out just a couple of days ago. Let’s discuss some of the results.

Slide 12: If there are parliamentary elections next Sunday, which party or alliance of parties will you vote for?

Who would you vote for?


  • Is this the lowest rating of Pashinyan ever?
  • What needs to be done to move the needle for Bagrat Srbazan’s movement?

Slide 3: How do you assess Bagrat Srbazan’s Tavush for the Homeland Movement?

Assess the Tavush Movement

Bagrat Srbazan has an overall positive rating of 52.9%. However, a significant portion of respondents (33.5%) responded negatively to this question.


  • Granted that Bagrat Srbazan’s anti-rating is not as high as Nikol Pashinyan or even opposition leaders such as Robert Kocharyan, how do you explain this result?
    • I ask this in the context that the government has been trying to sling falsified accusations at the Srbazan, for example, that he has 2 sons and he has freed them from mandatory military service.
    • Is it possible that the propaganda is having an effect in increasing the negative rating of the Srbazan?

Slide 4: How do you follow the Unfolding Events during the “Tavush for the Motherland” movement?

How do you follow the Tavush Movement


  • Social media: 67.6%
  • Television: 39.3%
  • Electronic mass-media: 4.8%
  • Radio: 1.6%
  • Difficult to respond: 0.2%
  • Other: 1.6%
  • I don’t follow the events: 19.7%

Slide 5: How have you participated in the “Tavush for the Motherland” movement?

Have you participated in the movement?

People listed various ways they participated in the movement, from the benign “I am following it on Facebook” to “I closed off streets”. Nearly 72%, however, said that they are not participating.

Slide 6: How do you rate the behavior of the protesters?

Rate Behavior of Protesters

In summary, 52.1% positive and 37.4% negative. For reference, in 2018, this same pollster asking this same exact question got 98.3% positive.

Same Question in 2018


  • What insight, if any, can we draw from these answers? Again, is it right to compare everything to 2018?

Slide 7: How do you evaluate the actions of the RA Police during the “Tavush for the Homeland” movement?

Assess Police Response

35.8% assess the movement positively, while 46.5% assess it negatively.

Slide 8: In your opinion, is it appropriate that the protesters are blocking roads and intersections?

Should Protesters Block Roads?

This is an interesting question. Only 38% responded positively to this question, while 55.7% responded negatively. I think it’s important to recall 2018 again, when 87% of the people responded positively to this same question.

Same Question in 2018


  • Are people just tired of blocking streets as a way to change government? Is this an appropriate comparison to make?

Slide 9: How do you see the method of removal of Nikol Pashinyan?

Method of Removal of Pashinyan

Slide 10: Who do you see as the head of the Transitional Government/ Prime Minister of Armenia?

Who should be PM?

Slide 11: Appreciate the work of RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

Assess Pashinyan as PM

Thoughts from the Panelists

  • Hovik: State Department back to business as usual with Aliyev & Co. See Yuri Kim & Ethnic Cleansing Sept. 2023
  • Hrant: Azerbaijan continues to destroy Armenian heritage in Artsakh, Dedicate the next decades to return to Artsakh.


That’s our Week in Review, we hope you found it helpful. We invite your feedback and your suggestions, you can find us on most social media and podcast platforms. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.


Hrant Mikaelian

Hrant Mikaelian

Hrant Mikaelian, a political scientist and multidisciplinary researcher in social sciences based in Yerevan. He is also a senior researcher at the Caucasus Institute.


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.

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

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

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