For weeks, Armenians attempted the unthinkable — to bring down their government through peaceful mass protests. On Monday night, they returned to the capital’s central Republic Square, this time to celebrate their impending victory. “I’m so proud to be Armenian now,” said Satenik Gevorgyan, 28. “This is the kind of change we’ve been waiting for all our lives.” Armenia’s parliament is expected to elect opposition leader Nikol Pashinian as prime minister Tuesday, nearly a month after the 42-year-old led hundreds of thousands of Armenians in a civil disobedience movement. The nonviolent demonstrations began in April and at times paralyzed the capital, Yerevan, with road blockages, labor strikes and street dance parties.
The demonstrations were unprecedented in size and scope for this small, mountainous republic tucked in between Georgia and Turkey, and Iran and Azerbaijan. Frustrated youths fed up with the lack of economic opportunities under the decade-long rule of former President Serzh Sargsyan dominated the protest movement, and quickly galvanized generations across the country.
The movement was most remarkable for its unexpected outcome: the peaceful ousting of a pro-Russia ruling elite in a former Soviet space.