In an interview with ArmInfo, Armenian moviemaker and public person Tigran Khzmalyan comments on the latest events and changes in the political life of Armenia, preconditioned by the global political flows. In this respect, he makes short-term forecasts on heavier Russian impact, and shares his opinion regarding optional paths of the country development.
In Armenia, due to a number of objective factors, the electoral race has started already. What is your vision of the current domestic political situation in the republic and what background for conducting elections (and of what quality of those) does it contain?
During the recent two decades, the political parties’ life in Armenia, being predicted by complete domination of the Russian secret services, exists in general just as an imitation. In 1999, after the terrorist act in Armenian Parliament this process got its final shapes. In 2008, after the society realized the fact of being represented not only by political parties, it lost any interest in those parties, and after that the process of capsulation of thinking for the active part of the society started. However, dozens of those public movements would not rise if Armenian society were represented by parties. As a result, there are no political parties in Armenia in essence. There is one big party, divided in blocks: those who were at the wheel of power and the ruling party. The latter, in turn, is divided into about 100 registered entities controlled by the USSR KGB under the titles of Russian FSB and Armenian NSS. Nevertheless, in Armenia a group of small parties still exists, one of those is the parliamentary unit of Free Democrats, and some public entities, copulating European, Western dimension of the Armenian public life.
Within all this, together with our followers we hanged on the necessity to establish a Party of a new type, and we called it "European choice", which should join the young generation and the part of society ever called "medium class". But after several studies implemented during summer-fall last year, we came to a conclusion that any other methods of struggle have expired. And the July rebellion demonstrated the society experiencing a need for political struggle and conversation.
Amid the West’s intensifying pressure on the remains of the Soviet Union in Russia and Armenia, we could hope for a chance to hold more or less civilized elections in April 2017. Everything led to that amid political and economic fall of Putin's Russia. I would ask not to mix it up with Russia in general, because I could say that the first victim of Putin’s regime is Russia itself.
Would you please mention your position on the changes that could rule out the probability of more or less civilized elections in April 2017?
The heart of the matter is that after the rapid revolution in the United States on November 16, the situation in the world changed sharply. Many people treat that with humor, but the power shift in the United States reflects serious and deep processes. Trump's victory overlapped rises and falls in Europe, first of all in respect to Great Britain’s vote for BrExit. Similar processes take place in France, Spain, Italy, and the situation in Austria got settled just yesterday. In this respect these events could be estimated as some tendency, which could be briefly described as the revanche of XX century over XXI. This became possible as a result of public fear regarding unprecedented technological, public and mental modernization. This process leaves unemployed a plenty of people, first of all people of older age. Huge branches of industries, and people who were occupied there producing, for instance, everything that now simple smart phone contains, turned useless for everybody. It is natural that these people do struggle for their world, for their understanding of fairness. The coal century ended not because the coal ended. And the oil century expires not because the oil resources expire, but because electric engines are created. Such technologies drive to essential public changes, and the humanity is not ready for that. In other words, the future came faster than the mankind expected.
Let’s talk about the political impact of these obviously important social flows first of all on Armenia…
In the political view, the events taking in the USA and Europe mean that all of us will face hard times of revanche, things that are often called conservative values, revenge of political reaction. Like any reaction, it will not last long, but it will last for a while, and that "while" is our lives. According to Khzmalyan, all this reaction contains pretty large threats for Armenia. Particularly, USA and Europe in such conditions may retreat, and the Putin regime, including its post-soviet allies, and Tukey and Iran will get historical time and space for tactics. And all this is a very big threat for Armenia. For our small internal environment it means that the 2017 elections will flow under the same prescript scenario, and there is no sense to participate in it. Its result is predicted, and we have lost our chance again and the reason of that, though it might sound strange, is the fear of middle-aged Americans. All this rules out the probability of Western pressure on Armenian authorities with a purpose to hold normal elections. The West retreats, that is obvious, and that means Russia will come closer. And the military-feudal regime reincarnated in Russia is at the top of revanchism.
Do your words mean that henceforth Russia’s influence in Armenia will grow? But it’s all too much…Would you please voice its ultimate limits?
Russian influence in Armenia was initiated on October 27, 1999. After that there were several more dates, and the most important was September 3, 2013, when Armenia turned upside down the foreign policy concept and joined the Custom Union. Yerevan was forced to make this step, even in conditions of that extremely non-favorable step. At the same time it is obvious also that Russia has no any influence on our youth, which is our driving power. Today's Russia is not interesting for our youth. Russia gives nothing - no culture, no music, no fine arts. Even the Russian language is so archaic today that there is no sense to tie Armenia's development to Russia even in this aspect.
Does it mean that Russia is not an attractive value at all for Armenia today?
Yes, it does. This is exactly what I mean. Russia, as it appears today, is not of any valuable attractiveness for Armenia. And that concerns not only Armenia, the same is going on in Georgia, Ukraine and Baltic countries. Meanwhile, Russia, with no doubt, possesses all the tools to keep its political power in Armenia. And the fact that today the slight Russian intervention reached the army is a very dangerous threat. The bright evidence of this is that the critical situation was cancelled by privates and not their commanders being under Russian influence.
Would you share the visible prospect of the abovementioned processes for Armenia?
In historical prospective, the global political reaction will not last long, from one to four years, especially within the consideration of possible force-majeure. But this term may turn pretty serious for such a small and vulnerable state as Armenia. After all, the power hierarchy in Russia has a very narrow base. There are normal young people living in Russia, who do want to live and not to fight, who do want to love and not to hate, to build but not to destroy. That is why the development dimension Armenia was forced to be involved in, leads to a dead end. But Russia has large resources, and if nothing unordinary happens, we will lose several more years of our life.
And what about the optional paths of development?
I am strictly confident that there are options existing for Armenia in the West - there, where Russia had it's opportunities at the end of 17th century, just like Peter the Great saw those. But Armenia is being pulled back off this initiative, within imposition of an uncovered force through 13.5 thousands Russian troops. At that, Kremlin has its own agents in Armenian army and in police also. That is why this generation leaves the country. I am strictly confident that the only thing that my generation could do for Armenia now is to die in the shortest time possible, and to leave a free space for youth. But while we are alive, we should protect them from disappointment, migration, we should help them to survive keeping the human face, we should learn and to wait for the second "gate" to escape this situation. New generation is free of Soviet stereotypes but the only way left for youth is migration from the country. There are no social elevators left for our youth inside the country, and the evidence of that is the latest disgraceful mass joining of 7000 people to the Republican Party. In other words, the conformism is the only carrier left for the people Armenia. Our people are being pushed to conformism, to survival against all odds. This destroys the best in the nation, and this is exactly the reason we are twice less today than we were 20 years ago. That is why today the heart of the matter is whether we could resist for several years more or our internal resources will expire earlier. I do want to believe we will resist all this.