Armenia. In January, a family of six people was shot to
death by a Russian soldier near a military base in Armenia.
The incident triggered upset feelings among Armenians
protesting outside the Russian embassy in Yerevan, which
worried the Armenian government. The Russian Federation is
Armenia's only ally in the southern Caucasus and has about
3,000 soldiers at its base in Gjumri.
Crowds gathered for the funeral of the victims, and in
Yerevan, upset protesters tried to burn the Russian flag but
were prevented by police. The protests grew when it became
known that the perpetrator would be brought to justice in
the Russian Federation. Several people were injured in
violence and police arrested protesters. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the soldier was
later sentenced in the Russian Federation to prison for
offenses in the service, but would then be tried in Armenia
for the murders.
In February, members of the opposition party A Successful
Armenia (BHK) were arrested after President Serzh Sarkisian
declared that party leader Gagik Tsarukyan was "evil" and
had to step away from politics. The arrested were charged
with possession of weapons. BHK boycotted Parliament's work
in protest, but in March Tsarukyan resigned as party leader.
The conflict with Azerbaijan over the Armenian breakaway
republic of Nagorno-Karabakh reached its most violent level
since the end of the war in 1994. Firing at the border
increased, both sides used artillery and other heavy
weapons. In the first quarter, 31 people were killed, and
this year's death toll was expected to exceed the previous
year's 72 dead.
In April, Armenia celebrated the 100th anniversary of the
genocide of about one million Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire. At a ceremony in the capital Yerevan, among others,
was the Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin. The
Armenian Church sanctified all the victims of the genocide.
Before the commemoration, President Sarkisian had
interrupted the sluggish peace process with Turkey, as the
country did not want to classify the mass murder of
Armenians as genocide. Several Armenian opposition leaders
who planned protests against the government ahead of the
100th anniversary were arrested by police.
In June, street protests erupted in Yerevan when the
Russian-owned electricity monopoly announced that
electricity prices would rise sharply. Several thousand
people were met by gun police with water cannons, and
hundreds were arrested.
President Sarkisian promised that the state would be
responsible for raising the electricity price until an audit
of the electricity company was done. At the same time, the
Russian Federation promised large loans to Armenia for the
purchase of Russian weapons. The opposition protested
against Armenia's increased dependence on the Russian
Federation and participation in armor with Azerbaijan, which
also bought Russian weapons.
In July, the demonstrations resumed and some activists
demanded regime change. There was a dissatisfaction with
Armenia from January joining the Euro-Asian Economic Union
led by the Russian Federation together with Kazakhstan and
Belarus and later also Kyrgyzstan.
In September, protests against electricity prices
continued. In addition, demonstrations were held against
proposed amendments to the Constitution, where the
president's power would be weakened and the prime minister's
increase. The Sarkisian was accused of trying to retain his
power in this way by becoming head of government when his
presidential term expires. Parliament decided on a
referendum on the matter.