A young Armenian passes an abandoned fountain in the city of Gumri, northwest of Yerevan, May 5, 2018
The facade of the Zoya building is falling apart, the fault of the earthquake that struck Armenia in 1988. „Nobody visits us,“ she said. In the poorest province of the country, one feels neglected, but the probable advent of a new prime minister offers some hope.
In the library of Zoya Sarkissian, 80 years old, Armenian editions of Alexandre Dumas rub shoulders with some Émile Zola and many of Jules Verne. Many vestiges of the time when Armenia was part of the USSR and where one edited with turn of the classics of the French literature.
„At the time of the Soviet Union, education and medical care were free,“ recalls Zoya, who worked for nearly 40 years in a textile factory in Gumri, the capital of Shirak province. and second city of the country. „I have health problems but I can not afford to go to the doctor because I am retired“.
Since the earthquake of December 7, 1988 that killed 25,000 people, his building crumbles, the railing jerks and the ground is badly curled. Zoya no longer relies on the municipality of Gumri to help him, nor even on the authorities of Yerevan, the capital.
But when we talk to him about Nikol Pachinian, the deputy party in battle against corruption that could become Prime Minister on Tuesday, Zoya is enthusiastic. A little.
„I hope for change,“ she says. „But to make a revolution is not easy (Pachinian) will have to build a whole new country“.
Zoya Sarkissian, 80, looks out the street from the window of her apartment in Gumri, May 5, 2018
Because it is on an anti-corruption and anti-poverty message that Nikol Pachinian has built his notoriety.
Former 42-year-old journalist, he succeeded in April in pushing tens of thousands of Armenians to demonstrate peacefully against former President Serge Sarkissian, who became Prime Minister for a few days, and his Republican Party, accused of failing to stem corruption and poverty.
Sarkisian’s resignation on 23 April gave rise to popular cheering and in the process Mr. Pachinian tried to get elected by Parliament. While he was the only candidate, he failed May 1, the Republican Party, the majority in Parliament, having blocked against him.
Today however, Nikol Pachinian ensures that he has the support of all elected officials and plans to present himself a second time in front of his peers on Tuesday.
If elected, his task would be Herculean. Nearly 27 years after independence, Armenia struggles with an unemployment rate close to 19%, according to the IMF. Wealth disparities are frightening and „endemic“ corruption, according to the NGO Transparency International.
– „Do not break anything!“ –
The province of Shirak, about 100 kilometers north of Yerevan, is the most affected by poverty. According to the National Statistical Office, 49.2% of its inhabitants were considered „poor or very poor“ in 2015, compared with 31.8% nationally.
Gagik Martirosian, 55, in his garden in Gumri, May 5, 2018
Poverty, Susanna Martirosian, 54, knows well. Next to the Zoya building and a few meters from the Place Charles-Aznavour, she lives with her family in a shack made of odds and ends since the 1988 earthquake.
The rain oozes from the walls and gets heated by burning dried cow dung. At home, Nikol Pachinian’s image of a man close to the people is working at full speed.
„He is totally dedicated to our country and our problems are of concern to him,“ says Susanna.
But this fervor is barely palpable in the streets of Gumri – just like Armenia’s smooth „revolution“.
To find some of the bubbling revolutions, you have to go to the State University of Shirak Province.
A hundred students organized a protest demanding the resignation of the rector, a member of Serge Sarkissian’s Republican Party, and accused of being „corrupt“.
Students from Gumri University demand the resignation of the Rector, a member of the ruling Republican Party, May 5, 2018
„For years, the rulers have stolen, tormented the Armenian people and muzzled the freedom of expression,“ ton Armen Melkonian, president of the student council, cap of the movement „Doukhov“ (Courage, in Armenian) of Nikol Pachinian, screwed on the skull.
„The students are rebelling!“, Rejoices his comrade Martin Mekrtchian. He grabs the megaphone: „No violence, do not break anything!“
After half an hour the protesters leave empty-handed. The rector went on a weekend.