Interview with Manvel Sargsyan, member of the first dismantling brigade of Mashtots Park, director of ACNIS
Mr. Sargsyan, the campaigns are underway, the parties have different slogans, such as “Believe to change”. Does the society want change through elections?
If we view the question in abstract terms, the Armenian society wants to get out of this situation. Those who wants this situation to persist for thousands of years have been able to usurp the rights and wealth of everyone. It is another issue how these people express themselves in this situation. We see them close schools and offices, give people posters to enable the person who has illegally taken the post of president to conduct his campaign. A large-scale crime is committed openly in the sight of so many people, they are intimidated that they will lose what they have. People living in independence for twenty years believe this and try to stay away from them… Though they say these people receive money, but no, nobody can buy so many people and it is meaningless. This is the problem…
In other words, was it an illusion that the society has changed, has claims, and this society will not overlook rigged elections?
I don’t know who created this illusion and for what purpose but for me the society has changed, citizens emerged (though their number is small) who do not know that they will not accept illegality. I don’t know what the oppositions are, whether people are coerced by rulers or they are people who defy illegality. They are mostly people who obey any illegality and there is no difference and change between them and demonstrators.
They set up a joint campaign headquarters, hit their fists against the table, say they are powerful to go all the way and prevent falsification but what have they done against the example of the large-scale crime of Serzh Sargsyan’s rally. They did nothing and they cannot do anything because they obey it. Hence, the situation is complicated.
Mr. Sargsyan, does this election differ from those of 2007-2008? At that time there was hope, trust, claims. How about now?
There was hope, trust, claims at that time and there is now. I think in these five years no important change took place – the characteristic of defying illegality was not acquired. Remember during the sit-in in front of the Opera there were no toilets, it was illegal but people obeyed this monstrous decision because it was called “constitutional way”. The constitutional way is understood differently in Armenia. I think in this election it must be understood that besides this obedient mainstream there are other people who stand locally at Mashtots Park face to face with the police and tell them you are illegal, we do not recognize you, you are criminals.
Mr. Sargsyan, do you want to say the Congress had misunderstood the meaning of restoring constitutional order?
If you ask them, they will say it is right but first we care for the result, second, we care for the effect. How can people obey illegalities? First they said Serzh Sargsyan is not legitimate, then they say something else, and as a result people cannot understand the Congress. Most people started doubting because it was not clear what they say and what they do, it was impossible to ask questions and get clear answers on how constitutional order will be restored. It could be explained beautifully in five years.
Levon Ter-Petrosyan noted recently that the ANC is ready to cooperate with any force to rid of the government.
The ruling regime cooperates with every criminal, every feudal lord, local strongman, murderer, anyone to block the opposition from parliament, and what does it have to do with the establishment of Constitutional order at all?
Mr. Sargsyan, you mentioned before the campaign that none of the parties pursues public interests. Can you see such a tendency now?
The parties must answer a simple question – how do they get mandates when everyone announced beforehand that the government is set to falsify the elections? The mandate is granted in the result of free and fair elections. How did you get the mandate if you did not get it from the public? As soon as the parties give a clear answer to these questions, it will be easier to answer the other questions but nobody answers it yet.
They have announced for a number of times they cannot falsify the elections if everyone protects their own vote.
How can the votes of dead people be protected? The Armenian opposition invented this fairy tale. If they want to falsify the elections, they cannot overlook the authoritarian repressive machine. But there were other cases when the society defied the machine, made it refrain from falsifying. Thus the world’s democratic states were created.
Mr. Sargsyan, you mentioned the citizens of Mashtots Park who defy illegality. Will they later impose and demand fair elections?
The place is interesting because philosophy was born there, everything starts with the self-determined citizen who never accepts any illegality consciously. These people may be ten, then they may become hundred, then thousand, this is a way of mind. People say one place will not resolve the general problem, the regime must be changed. Is it possible that the citizens do not understand such trivial things? But people must know that it is more difficult to take a boutique or toilet than 26 Baghramyan Street.
There is a point of view that the government will dismantle the boutiques ten days before the elections to win dividends. Will it still be an achievement of the self-determined citizens? What will happen if the government takes this step ten days before the elections?
The government does not need dividends, these are speculations. As to their decision, it will be related to the extent of their serious approach to what is happening there. This is the issue. First they ignored, laughed, then they spoke toughly, tomorrow they will say something else because unlike the political parties the government knows better whose warning finger it is. The government would gladly exchange four such hotbeds with one thousand political parties.
Is the park the vision of New Armenia?
It is. See how people express their ideas. They never ask someone for something. Look what bright and interesting intellectuals have gathered there who understand that the owner does not ask, the owner takes, and such people are increasing in number.
But the fight seems to be politicized.
Politicizing is the easiest thing. If the person cares for power only, this person thinks so of others. This is the psychology of the slavish system. One of this system will not believe there are no slaves therefore when he sees something that he cannot understands, he wonders whose slate it is. This movement is called movement of disobedience. When people collected signatures in mid-1988, everyone feared to go and sign a paper, six months later millions of people stood up and announced their disobedience to the central government. The idea is important, the belief of people is important that disobedience is the most powerful thing, it is the most powerful weapon the world has created, it is more powerful than any other weapon.