A boy passes by a fountain in the Armenian town of Guiumri on May 5, 2018
The building of Zoya Sarkisian, in Guiumri, is falling apart after the earthquake that in 1988 devastated the province of Shirak, the poorest in the country, and where the possible arrival to power of a new prime minister raises hopes for change and “ revolution“.
„Nobody ever comes to visit us,“ says this 80-year-old woman who lives in Guiumri, the capital of the province.
In his house there are still Armenian translations of Alexandre Dumas, Emile Zola or Jules Verne, memories of the time when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union and many French classics were published.
„In the era of the Soviet Union, education and medical care were free,“ recalls Zoya, who worked for 40 years in a textile factory in the city, the second largest in the country.
„Now I have health problems but I do not have the means to go to the doctor because I am retired,“ he explains.
Since the December 7, 1988 earthquake that killed 25,000 people, its building falls apart and the ground is warped. Zoya has no hope of receiving help from the city council of Guiumri or the authorities of Yerevan, the capital of the country.
But when they talk to him about Nikol Pashinián – the deputy who fights corruption and who could become prime minister on Tuesday – Zoya regains hope.
„I hope for a change (…) But making the revolution is not easy. [Pashinián] will have to build a new country,“ he explains.
With his speech against corruption and against poverty, Pashinián, a 42-year-old journalist, managed to take tens of thousands of Armenians to the streets in April to demonstrate peacefully against former President Serge Sarkisián, who became prime minister for a few days. .
Zoya Sarkisian, 80, looks out the window from her home in the Armenian city of Guiumri on May 5, 2018
His detractors accuse Sarkisian and his Republican Party of failing to fight corruption and poverty.
The resignation of Sarkisian, on April 23, sparked popular enthusiasm and Pashinián then tried to be elected by parliament. But even though he was the only candidate, he did not succeed in the May 1 vote because the Republican Party, the majority in parliament, blocked him.
Pashinián now ensures that he has the support of the disputed and on Tuesday he will try to be elected again.
If he succeeds, the challenge is immense. Twenty-seven years after its independence, Armenia has an unemployment rate of 19%, according to the IMF, huge inequalities between rich and poor and „endemic“ corruption, according to Transparency International.
– Student rebellion –
The province of Shirak, a hundred kilometers north of Yerevan, is the poorest in the country. According to the national statistics office, 49.2% of its inhabitants were „poor or very poor“ in 2015, compared to 31.8% nationally.
Susanna Martirosian, 54, knows poverty well. Since the earthquake of 1988 lives with his family in a hut where rain oozes from the walls and where she is forced to burn cow dung to warm up in winter.
That is why he trusts that Nikol Pashinián, who cultivates his image as a man close to the people, will change things. „He is totally devoted to our country and our problems worry him,“ he explains.
Some students of the University of Guiumri demand the resignation of the rector, member of the ruling Republican Party, on May 5, 2018
However, this fervor is not felt in the streets of Guiumri.
To find a more „revolutionary“ environment, one must go to the state university of Shirak, where a hundred students demonstrate to demand the resignation of the rector, member of the Republican Party of Sarkisian, accused of corruption.
„For years the leaders stole, tormented the Armenian people and gagged freedom of expression,“ says Armen Melkonian, president of the student council and wearing a cap of the movement of Nikol Pashinián, called „Dukhov“ („Valor“ in Armenian).
„The students rebel!“, Congratulates his comrade Martin Mekrtchian, while with the megaphone he urges his companions not to break anything. Shortly after, after half an hour of demonstration, the students return to their homes.