After a truce was reached on September 20 and the Karabakh army ceased resistance, totally expected protests broke out in Yerevan. Protesters demanded the resignation of Pashinyan, accusing him of betrayal for his refusal to fight Azerbaijan. By all indications, this scenario, with the aim of removing Pashinyan from power “by the street,” was organized by his opponents – the same ones who instigated the change of power in Stepanakert.
However, recent history has shown that Pashinyan’s support in Armenia is much stronger than the capabilities of his opponents, and there is no force inside Armenia ready to remove him without foreign backing. In Armenia, it is the Russian leadership that the majority would most likely suspect of providing that foreign backing. And anti-Russian sentiment in today’s Armenia is extremely high.
Is Russia interested in a change of power in Yerevan? Dmitri Medvedev, the former Russian president and now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, has been the most open about this
, condemning Pashinyan for “flirting with NATO” and concluding his remarks with the phrase “guess what fate awaits him.” Russia’s interest is also visible in the calls that appeared on the internet from the main Russian propagandists Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russia Today, and TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov, who called on Armenians to join the protests against Pashinyan.
Maria Zakharova, the official spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, called on all parties in Karabakh to ensure the safety of Russian peacekeepers. Previously, it seemed – probably mistakenly – that the situation was the other way around: the peacekeepers were there to ensure the safety of the residents of Karabakh.
On September 20, the deaths of Russian peacekeepers were reported. Aliyev apologized
to Russia, though overall his position remains unchanged. Starting from September 20, Russian peacekeepers, declaring their goal to ensure the safety of Karabakh Armenians, have been taking them – mainly women with children and the elderly – from their places of residence to their base in the village of Khojaly near Stepanakert, housing them in tents. Azerbaijan considers those who remain on the territory of Karabakh with weapons in their hands to be “uncontrolled armed formations” that are to be killed.
It remains to be seen what will happen next to the people whom Russian peacekeepers are transporting from Karabakh. Whether they will be allowed to choose themselves to seek refuge in “mainland” Armenia or remain in Karabakh under the rule of Azerbaijan is unclear.