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Rally against Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan on April 22, 2018
Rally against Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan on April 22, 2018
Konstantin Aggert

MOSCOW — Following a series of demonstrations against the political class that began across Armenia on April 13, the country's prime minister Serzh Sargsyan has resigned. His duties are being temporarily carried out now by First Deputy Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan. In Moscow, the events in Armenia have prompted a public reaction from Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, who wrote on her Facebook page: "Armenia, Russia is always with you!"

Zakharova singled out the capability of the Armenian society to conserve unity amid internal political strife, adding that Moscow was willing to maintain good relations with Yerevan. But the longer-term question of how Sargsyan's resignation will influence bilateral relations may be more complicated. Konstantin Eggert, the former top editor of Kommersant, offered his analysis earlier this week on Kommersant FM.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Armenian Prime Minister Serzh SargsyanPhoto: Alexei Druzhinin/ZUMA

Eggert: I think that in the near future we will understand whether this was just a cosmetic change of a person sacrificed in order to preserve the general structure of power and business, or if it is about more serious reforms. Of course, it is an important exam for the Armenian opposition that is in the minority in the parliament and that now needs to try to promote its political ideas linked, first of all, to the fight against corruption, migration from the country and the absence of a clear prospect of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial conflict, as well as other outstanding questions.

It seems to me that literally until the last moment Serzh Sargsyan was not going to leave his post. I am not so sure that the rumors about Moscow recommending him to resign correspond to the reality. But I am absolutely sure that the Russian embassy in Yerevan does not have many — to put it mildly — contacts with the opposition because it is a standard matrix of the behavior of the Russian diplomatic service: we work only with the authorities, we don't deal with the opponents of the regime, except for the cases when the opposition is represented by our people. That is why, in my opinion, it will be now difficult for Moscow to define its stance towards any new Armenian leadership.

As for the prospects of the strategic cooperation between Moscow and Yerevan, I don't think that something will radically change here. Firstly, Armenians perceive Russia and Russians quite positively. Secondly, the choice in favor of the alliance with Moscow is in many respects strategic as it is linked to the protection of national interests amid the conflict with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Some changes in positions, however, are possible.

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