January 30, 2020 - 13:10 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Far-right movements in Armenia are skilled at imposing their agendas on society and shaping social and political discourse, Freedom House said in a new report.
There has been a significant increase in the visibility and legitimization of far-right activism in public and political discourse since the “velvet revolution” of 2018 in the country, the organization said in a brief describing the growth of far-right movements in Armenia, as well as Ukraine and Georgia.
Tens of thousands of Armenians took to the streets in April–May 2018 to demand the resignation of the then authorities and the formation of a new government and parliament. The then Prime Minister, Serzh Sargsyan, who had been at the helm of the country for 10 year, resigned, while Nikol Pashinyan who led the movement was ultimately elected the country’s new PM
At the head of the new movement is Adekvad, a Facebook group that registered as a political party in May 2019, the report says.
“The movement reflects typical antiliberal, antiglobalist ideology, calling for a return to “traditional” values and supporting aggression against minorities, such as LGBT+ people. ...Adekvad’s young cofounder Artur Danielyan describes his movement as a means of legitimizing ultraconservative and antiglobalist discourse in the country, and considers European movements such as Alternative for Germany to be allies. Despite these professed European influences, however, Adekvad is also widely rumored to receive significant support from the Kremlin,” according to the NGO.
Armenia’s government has adopted a severe stance against Adekvad’s far-right activities early on, the think tank said. Pashinyan has criticized the group, publicly accusing it of being secretly affiliated with the former government and with Russia. Several days after Adekvad announced its intention to form a political party, Pashinyan characterized the movement as “men in black” who were “preparing to solve political issues through violence,” and called on law enforcement to “give a very strong counterblow.” Danielyan and several other members of Adekvad were subsequently detained for several hours by police, and Danielyan was arrested a second time two days later.
“These arbitrary detentions—perceived as having been ordered by Pashinyan—backfired. Instead of turning public opinion against Adekvad, the group received sympathy over what were widely regarded as unjustified arrests,” the brief says.
“While analysts generally acknowledge that Adekvad has no ability to claim political power in the near future, the movement is an increasingly influential presence within Armenia’s political discourse, particularly among youth and social media users.”