Unlike the previous elections in Armenia the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia will be marked by influence. So far there have been no doubts that Armenia is a zone of Russia’s influence which was believed eligible to designate or at least affirm candidates to government in Armenia.
This time the situation is different. The West has an equal psychological right with Russia to support this or that candidate.
Russia would hardly agree to this so most probably it has some other plans relating to Armenia. Most probably, the substitution of Kocharyan with Sargsyan in 2008 copied the Russian developments in 2007, when Medvedev was appointed Putin’s “locum tenens” for one term. It was expected that after one term Kocharyan would also return to the presidential office.
But something went wrong. Either Serzh Sargsyan broke the “deal” and demanded 2 terms or the events of 1 March 2008 changed the plans, and Kocharyan didn’t become prime minister. Or yet everything was planned before the elections but after Serzh Sargsyan had assumed office, he suddenly turned towards the West.
This was demonstrated as an important step. In spite of the fact that Serzh Sargsyan announced in Moscow about football diplomacy with Turkey, after some time the Americans took the initiative in their hands and did not allow enactment of the decision, according to which, in return for opening the Armenian-Turkish border, Armenians would have to make concessions on Karabakh.
After it had became known that the Russian plan on “normalization” of relations between Armenia and Turkey and Azerbaijan contradicts Armenia’s interests, Russia’s undoubted “paternity” in Armenia was already questioned. Always more people started facing West, understanding that both sides pursue their interests but now the Western ones at least match the Armenian interests.
The West noticed these changes in Armenia best of all and took an unprecedented step. It decided not to support the opposition candidate, as it had done in other post-soviet countries, but to bid on the president. Now Russia, if it wants to have its candidate, will have to fight not only against the West, but also the administrative machine of Armenia, which may decide the outcome of any election.
With the changing sentiment of the Armenia society, Russia was deprived of its unchanged instrument of neutralization of “other” players. Earlier, it would have been enough to leak rumors that this or that politician is a western agent to deprive that person of reputation and turn to a renegade. For example, Artur Baghdasaryan was “charged with” a meeting with the British ambassador prior to the elections.
Now, the Western sentiment does not stand for “crime”. Moreover, the agents of influence of Russia appear in an unbeneficial situation because now the society thinks from the citizen’s position that the Russian agents of influence lead Armenia to “underdeveloped” Eurasia, while the “Western ones” bring the comfort and well-being of Europe.
Legitimacy granted to Serzh Sargsyan by the West to go for a second term has further complicated the situation of other candidates. Moreover, it has been legitimized by the equidistance of Armenia from the West and Russia.
This trend may develop in one direction or another. If the Americans, along with political support to Serzh Sargsyan provide inflow of Western investment to the country and neutralize the dominant Russian capital in Armenia, Armenia may finally and “peacefully” break from the post-Soviet imperial space. The trend could have a reverse effect only in case of a force majeure, For instance, God forbid, bloodshed in which case a state of emergency is declared and an interim government is established.