"Aliev – düşman [Aliyev – enemy], Serzh – enemy, Путин – враг [Putin – enemy]," "Peace to the people, war to the regimes," "Regimes are maintained by gunfire," and "People are dying, oligarchs are getting richer" were some of the slogans participants of a "No to War peace march" were chanting today in downtown Yerevan.
About four dozen or so pro-peace activists early this morning gathered in Republic Square outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, then walked toward the Russian Embassy, then along Mashtots Avenue, ending the march at Liberty Square. At the end of the march, the activists held a public discussion, summing up their rally.
During the march, participants held posters that put the blame on the regimes established in Armenia and Azerbaijan and emphasized Russia's role in the tension at the border.
Speaking to Epress.am, one march participant, artist Karen Ohanyan (pictured below, right) said that only unprotected citizens, inhabitants of border villages, and rank-and-file soldiers suffer in the current situation; meanwhile, the leaders of the regimes solve their problems. Ohanyan believed that the Russian authorities initiated the meetings in Sochi to show the world that they too can be peacemakers, finding ways of solving the Karabakh conflict.
"In fact, the country is in danger because we make the following statements: 'The country has a president; the president will decide; we have to unite around him' and 'Russia has our back; Russia will decide.' These are manipulations, which are beneficial only to the authorities," he said.
Joining the demonstrators outside the foreign ministry building were human rights activists Mikael Danielyan and Artur Sakunts, Union for National Self-Determination party leader Paruyr Hayrikyan (pictured below, center), and war veteran Gagik Sarukhanyan.
Hayrikyan said the march shouldn't be perceived as an event organized against only the Armenian authorities. According to him, the route of the march was well chosen; in particular, going past the Russian Embassy, since Russia at one time gave Nagorno-Karabakh as well as Nakhichevan to Azerbaijan.
According to Sarukhanyan, demanding peace from the Armenian government is pointless. He believes resignation should be the only demand put forth to the current government.
Joining the march at Mashtots Avenue were a group of youths with EU flags, who during the year have participated in rallies organized by Hayrikyan.
Some of the march participants did not like the inclusion of EU flags; in particular, member of the organizing group Anton Ivchenko said there was no preliminary agreement to bring any flags, and waving only the EU flag during the march might create a misleading idea of the marchers' political orientation. Ivchenko spoke about this with Hayrikyan (seen in the video, in Armenian only).