Emergence of cult of personality in Armenia

12.04.2018 | 10:38 | Democracy and Human Rights

The ten-year period of Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency has reintroduced the cult of personality into the inner-political life of Armenia. It all started with hanging thousands of photos of Serzh Sargsyan on the walls of public schools, and ended in the change of the Constitution by an Armenian president (for the first time after the collapse of the USSR) in order to extend his power… And he was proclaimed irreplaceable by the same party he headed.

Irreplaceable leader

Initially, the thesis about Serzh Sargsyan’s irreplaceability was limited to the statements regarding him being an irreplaceable leader of the Republican Party of Armenia. In December 2017, Deputy Chairman of the RA National Assembly, RPA Spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov stated that “Serzh Sargsyan is the irreplaceable leader of the RPA, whether you like it or not.” In February 2018, the participant of offshore scandals, the hero of Panama Papers, former Head of Judicial Acts Compulsory Enforcement Service Mihran Poghosyan stated in his turn that Serzh Sargsyan is irreplaceable. “As head of the Republican Party, he is irreplaceable today,” he noted.

A similar statement was made by another prominent representative of the Republican Party, former regional governor of Syunik Marz Surik Khachatryan. According to him, the last thirty years have come to prove that Serzh Sargsyan is irreplaceable. Within two years after Constitutional amendments and transition to a parliamentary system of government, the Republican Party managed to turn the thesis about Serzh Sargsyan’s irreplaceability into a dogma according to which Serzh Sargsyan is the only public figure whose presence is the only guarantee of Armenia’s successful existence.

Guarantor of security

On the way of presenting Serzh Sargsyan as the sole guarantee of Armenia’s successful existence, the Republican Party started actively circulating the thesis about Armenia’s security dependence on Serzh Sargsyan. Already in mid-2017, Serzh Sargsyan was actively introduced by members of the Republican Party as a guarantor of Armenia’s security. “The President of the Republic performs all his functions as my leader, as the guarantor of security,” Hranush Hakobyan noted in November 2017.

On April 7, Armenia TV broadcasted an 80-minute documentary about Serzh Sargsyan entitled “The Patient Negotiator”, which reminded more of a pre-election advertising rather than a documentary. In the film, Sargsyan is presented as a guarantor of Armenia’s security, during whose presidency Armenia turned from a consumer of security to an exporter of security.

In an interview to tert.am, Serzh Sargsyan himself considered it possible to assume the post of Prime Minister of the country as there are internal and external threats which he cannot ignore.

It should be reminded that Serzh Sargsyan is the first RA President during whose presidency Armenia has suffered territorial losses. During April war in 2016 (8th year of his presidency), Armenia was not prepared enough for a possible attack, and a number of questions wide circles of the society were worried about, such as the issue of corruption in the army, have remained unanswered since April 2016.

Presenting Serzh Sargsyan as the guarantee of RA security, and his becoming prime minister as the only possibility to save the country from internal and external threats is a classical authoritarian manipulation, which makes one’s rule irreplaceable, and his retirement dangerous. The aforementioned is a display of cult of Serzh Sargsyan’s personality aimed at justifying the termless retention of power to a specific person through violation of democratic principles.

Anna Pambukhchyan,
“Union of Informed Citizens”


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