… by Alla Pierce, VT correspondent
[ Editor’s note: Alla brings us a better look into the strange turn of events in Armenia, where war veterans took over a police station as part of a political protest, and where two policemen, one of them a veteran himself, were killed in the process.
Fortunately, the standoff ended without a larger loss of life — the only good thing that could be said about it. The protesters had a list of grievances – too many actually – because real life major issues usually have to be dealt with one at a time, and often only after small issues have been resolved, as trust-building steps.
The editors understand that this is off-the-beaten-path, in terms of geopolitical importance to most of our readers, especially Americans, but we can get drawn into many of the local and even internal conflicts whenever there is a “East versus West” angle introduced; and Armenia is certainly a country that finds itself in play in that regard… Jim W. Dean ]
The recent regime change attempt in Armenia was not motivated by economic issues like tariffs for electricity, but an attempt to put forward political demands, including the overthrow of the current president, Serzh Sargsyan.
The organizers of this action used the unbeaten factor of patriotism. I am not referring to the direct participants but more about those who were behind them. The armed group that seized the building stationing the police patrol in Yerevan in July 17, consisted of veterans of the Karabakh war.
For townsfolk, the protesting by heroes of the war against a corrupt government is a good enough motivation to back their side, virtually or actually, without penetrating into the essence of what is actually happening. It is very likely that some of the protesters on the streets of Yerevan, were guided by such motives.
But, despite the fact that not many people in Armenia are satisfied with the current government and probably most of them have sympathy towards the participants of the war, not so many residents supported «Sasna trerin», as the protesters called themselves. The main reason was that the people understood that a spontaneous displacement of the government would most likely lead to anarchy and chaos.
As to government corruption and fighting against it with such questionable methods, such as this action in Yerevan is not the best option and certainly not the one that will lead to a constructive outcome. In that situation those methods were not only questionable, but criminal.
Despite the fact that some Armenian publications stated that it was clear from the beginning that the hostages will not be harmed, the act of hostage-taking is an act of terrorism. Especially, when the hostages are policemen or medical workers who came to help wounded people. Thus, «Sasna trerin» put a trump card in the hands of Serzh Sargsyan, allowing them to be called terrorists with full legal basis.
Let’s look closely at this righteous protest and see if everything is as simplistic as a story of heroes coming to liberate their people?
The well known newspaper by its anti-Russian content The Moscow Times has posted an article in which, besides other things, noted that the information about new hostages “ is disputed and difficult to verify”. I can only say that it is quite easily accessible information, ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSTANSjeN_k ) enough to see the video, where participants of an armed group calmly talks about taking hostages and treating them with respect and about killing a police officer because “he started first”.
When armed men storm the police building what are the police supposed to do? The policeman who was killed was Colonel Vanoyan, and was also was a combatant in the Karabakh war and he was by far from being a coward. He was not part of a corrupt government but just a policeman who did his job, and he was killed.
What about another policeman, who was inside a car 400 meter away and was killed by a sniper? What he was killed for?
Supporters of «Sasna trerin», in turn, claim the story of the sniper on the roof are not relevant to the group. In this case, we can presume the presence of a third party, which was interested in fueling the conflict.
A few words should be said about Zhirayr Sefilyan, who was arrested earlier for illegal possession and moving of weapons. His release was then demanded by «Sasna trerin». He was born and raised in Beirut, later fought in Karabakh and was titled the commander of the Shushi special battalion with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He is the leader of the opposition movement calling itself the “Founding Parliament” and is known for his tough stance, his calls for the overthrow of the existing government and a supporter of the use of very radical methods. Sefilyat also talks about the need to recapture land occupied by Azeries during the 4-day war. Under certain conditions, these appeals can be seen as provocative.
Sefilyan stands for Karabakh’s unification with Armenia, knowing that this country is a CSTO member, and the Russian military base is located in Armenia. If NKR is officially given to Armenia, Russia and not only Russia, could be drawn into conflict, and this conflict could have a very different nature and scope. This, by the way, is well understood by people in Karabakh and Armenia. Why would a military officer who engages in politics, calls for the steps that could lead to conflict on completely different scale?
Now, a few words about the Russian 102nd military base in Gyumri, the closing of which is also a demand by Zhirayr Sefilyan and his supporters. The functions performed by this base are fully described by “South Front” in the publication, Russian Forces in Armenia from June 16 of this year.
It was noted that the Russian military base in Gyumri “extends the Russian conventional deterrence umbrella over Armenia against any external attempts to violate Armenia’s sovereignty”. The frequent joint military exercises help to achieve the interoperability required during hostilities and Iranian airspace, with which Russia has friendly relations, may, if necessary, be used by Armenia.
“Should the situation deteriorate, – continues South Front – the 102nd’s organization and strength make it suitable to wage a low intensity counter-insurgency campaign against well organized “foreign fighters” and, in the event of a major military threat to Armenia, it is sufficiently powerful to screen Armenia’s borders until reinforcements could be sent, while bombarding key enemy sites with Iskander-M missiles.”
In late June, the Armenian parliament ratified the agreement on the establishment of the Armenian-Russian joint air defense system, which will allow Armenia to use the fourth-generation fighter aircraft, as well as the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.
With increased NATO activity in the region Armenia’s benefits of having a Russian military base on its territory seems obvious. So, on just whose behalf do Zhirayr Sefilyan and his supporters act when they refuse the Russian military presence in Armenia?
Otanic Gladio Ops in Armenia?
The Russian military base is bone in the throat of NATO. Last February a brutal murder was orchestrated of an Armenian family by a Russian soldier who served at the 102nd military base in Gyumri. It seemed to be a planned act of provocation, but a precedent had been established. A Russian soldier, killed an innocent family. A perfect occasion to roll out propaganda. Russian soldiers went from being defenders into killers, bringing no protection, but death. Get out, Russian occupiers!
That murder was full of weird occurrences and coincidences. The soldier is a son of pastors of a religious sect “Word of Life”*, coincidentally financed by the United States and Canada.
The young solder lived in Siberia and was serving in the Army there coincidentally then asked to be moved to Gyumri.
That night he invaded the house “to get some drink”, then committed a terrible seemingly senseless crime just because it was too much noise (remember that the killed were also very young children, including a 6-month-old baby – a crime that could be made by a mentally sick person, religious fanatic, or done to set up as a provocation, which led to violent anti-Russian protests in Gyumri).
He left no live witnesses of his crime but weirdly left some of his ammunition making it easier to be caught. He apparently used a machine gun, but the neighbors strangely became totally deaf that night.
Given how a critical change of attitude Armenians then had to the Russian military base after that, the crime is not “seemingly senseless“ anymore.
Even if all above was nothing but set of coincidences something like this had to be set up by a third party who is interested in stoking an Armenian protest against the 102nd military base.
Armenians don’t like any comparison of their protest actions with Maidan, but unfortunately, in any of these events there are too many signs of approved “maidan” technology.
The July actions included the clashes with police, which were exacerbated by the provocative actions of the protesters, the snipers on the roof, which, as in Kiev, were there to kill to provoke a sharp reaction from law enforcement and the following more intense protest, the US involvement, which, through its Ambassador Richard Mills threatened Armenia with sanctions, in response to the acceleration of aggressive demonstrations in Yerevan, and Russophobic slogans, because consciously or subconsciously Russia should remain guilty regardless of who this protest was against.
In case of defeat, Russia will be associated with the repressive side. If protesters win the Russophobic retoric will be a part of ideological policy like in Ukrainian or Georgia.
The full “maidan” scenario was not played out here. Recent hits over the countries –members of EAU – had an objective to destabilize the situation in the countries, split society, demonstrate the readiness for armed conflict, and to seed more Russophobian attitudes for the future removal out of the zone of Russia’s influence.
As for the leaders of the group «Sasna trerin», I think that I will not be mistaken if I say that they just used their heroic past, to attract more people to the anti-government protests.
People who captured the police station and seize of hostages could be indeed terrorists, or mentally ill, or are acting within some sort of organized plan, where their actions are a signal or the trigger for larger events to unfold. Otherwise, they willingly play the role of the sacred victim, because these acts are qualified in a certain way and the punishment will be unequivocally harsh.
Therefore, the group expected action that did not take place for some reason. When this became clear to them, instead of “staying the course to the very end” as promised, surrendered to law enforcement authorities.
The Western powers carry out systematic internal political blows to the countries – members of the Eurasian Union, given the specificity of each of them. If for the country with a permanent military conflict on its borders, like Armenia, the patriotic factor should be the main focus, than in Belarus, for instance, an economical factor to motivate people is used instead.
There is also a gargantuan amount of subversive work done by US and the UK through their embassies and representatives of informal associations in Russia. Moreover, it is done quite openly and very seriously in the center of the Urals, the city of Ekaterinburg.
Hopefully, Armenians have enough wisdom and endurance to go through all of this and not to succumb to any provocations, regardless on whom they are proceeded.
In the meantime, Yerevan hospitals continue treating 9 people, affected by the actions on July 17. Two of the nine victims are policemen and one is a journalist.
* Sect “Word of Life” was established on the basis of “Faith Movement”, the pseudo-religious currents, which has arisen in the first half of this century in the United States. “Word of Life” Foundation was established in Sweden in 1983. In the late 80’s – early 90’s movement was actively implanted in Russia and Ukraine.
“This organization is recognized by many prominent experts in the field of Sect Studies as a socially dangerous totalitarian cult of an occult nature, which has a strong influence on the psyche of its adherents (many of its members suffer from depression, mental illness, suicidal tendencies) and has nothing to do with traditional Protestantism. This is also stated in the outcome document of the various international conferences held in recent years, both in Russia and abroad.