Politics 23:48 16/10/2019

The “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State

Mikael Minasyan, Armenia’s former Ambassador to the Holy See, has published an article below in “Hraparak” daily: "Today the first person of Armenia is an individual who governs the state without any conventional principle, rule or responsibility. As time goes by his appetite grows and political aspirations get closer to the dictatorship.

Nikol Pashinyan governs the country exactly how he managed his “Haykakan Zhamanak” (Armenian Times) daily newspaper. And here we do not talk about classical media outlet, it’s indeed about yellow pages. Nothing in his managerial style and principles have changed. Simply the micro-environment of the editorial office has migrated into a larger geographical area. And now all of us live in “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State, which has only 24 hour-cycle of memory and rhythm. Exactly the period between two issues of the daily newspaper. The society broke into three segments: journalists, readership and those who do not read a newspaper. 

During the times of being newspaper editor – аs now – Nikol Pashinyan is not willing and not going to assume any responsibility or share any responsibility. His high priority is the delivery of popular and populist deeds (N.B. I don’t say ‘decisions’). But the drama does not end here. The problem is that not only Nikol Pashinyan lives in newspaper-style logic and mood, but also a significant segment of the Armenian citizens, who like Pashinyan do not share any responsibility, live in the mythologized world of Pashinyan, read the Pashinyan-style content in the mornings to determine who they shall praise and who to curse. And do that till next morning. And no problem if the hero of previous issue is turned into antihero in the new issue. That’s the whole beauty of the 24-hour rhythm. You nullify everything every morning. And everything and everyone have only 24-hour expiration date. Next morning you will either consider it wasted or prolong its expiration date. Depending on expediency.

Pashinyan continues to govern the state with the same agenda where each day shall be comprised of a few important information genres.
■ The exposure of the day: there has to be an arrest of some former corrupt official on charges of embezzling or stealing maximum possible impressive sum of money. Irrelevant whether it’s fake or true, not even important whether the alleged fact of stealing or the alleged sum may not be proven, or if the detention may not be substantiated, not important if the money is going to be returned or not, or the way it’ll be returned or transferred to what accounts and to whom. This item must be ensured to be released in the newsfeed. Period.
■ Selfie of the day: with someone different every day – Serj Tankian on Saturday evening, Kim Kardashian on Sunday, Alexis Ohanian on Monday, at least Tigran Mansourian on Tuesday if there is no one else interesting available. But the selfie is a must, and not important what the two have discussed before or after the selfie, how efficient was the time of the head of country spent, and what the state gained out of it. Those are redundant and inappropriate questions to ask.
■ Festival of the day: the newsfeed shall endlessly be full of various gatherings, like vodka festival, various festivals of nuts, shoes, wine, toasts, meat plate, lavash, drones or external hard drives etc. Whatever it is, it’s important for the people to believe that there is some movement in the country. One must not go deep into it, whether there are any contracts signed after the festivals, whether or not there are any new export perspectives unveiled, or new investors coming in, new jobs created… Those are completely redundant and inappropriate questions to ask.
■ Hero of the day: here we have a nuance. In the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State the heroes are always the same: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his spouse. Yet the everlasting heroes shall every day “anoint smaller heroes” so that their royalty is underlined over and over again. And those wonderful, simple and hardworking people, like small businessmen, modest farmers or startupers, unwittingly become the “anointed” heroes of the day so that they testify to the eternity of the supreme heroes. They can benefit that status for 24 hours.
■ The number of the day: it endlessly has to be spoken about growth. The sub-branch of mountainous-cosmic tourism registered 10 percent growth. And it’s irrelevant if two very different periods of time had been chosen, wrong methodology applied or the data is pulled out of context. What is important – is the positive and impressive number so that the citizenry of the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State proudly share the online links with each other.
■ The obstacle of the day: Anti-hero and anti-phenomenon are always required to be named as impediments for progress. “Unless we have a new parliament, no investments will be made”. And down the road with same logic: before we have new regional governors, before the judiciary system reforms, before Hrayr Tovmasyan resigns. Soon we will see: before Russia elects a new President… In the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State it’s forbidden to seek any logical correlation between living better and the issues listed above. And that’s not even important. What matters is to identify and publicize another 24-hour-long impediment. 
According to exactly this logic and 24-hour chain of events Nikol Pashinyan governs the country today, without any rationality or consistency. When he is being reminded of his own words or deeds of yesterday, last month or year he genuinely does not understand why. A new day has started, hasn’t it? We now have a new ‘issue’ of “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State.

Now, how do we regard Russia? Depends on the day. We impatiently wait for Putin, then insult him by not offering welcome greeting, then get furious because of the meeting in Russian Embassy, and then finish the day by heartfelt hug at the airport. Zero content. And then the question of the following day: now we are fine with Russia, or fell out with them? Not important any more. A new day has come. A new guest has arrived.

The biggest drama of the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State is that the state in fact doesnt have not only any strategy, but also any goal. One thing is only constant: Nikol Pashinyan has always been the editor of “Haykakan Zhamanak”, and now he is the Prime Minister of “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State. The question of what will happen to the country later – has no answer.

By the way it’s interesting that if Nikol Pashinyan is unable to solve any issue in 24-hour cycle, he gets disengaged from it. The “readership” also is made disengaged.

He has changed his position on Amulsar a few times. A number of times. And again done so by the 24-hour logic, saying different things on different days, changing narrative depending on the ongoing reactions in the social media. Don’t even ask what has happened in Amulsar issue after all this. Nothing. If something is not in the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State’s newsfeed, then there is no such issue at all. And so it goes on until it hits the next 24-hour news cycle. Then a new decision will be released, a new guilty person will be determined and a new target will be declared – according to the moment’s expediency.
Nikol Pashinyan tried to resolve the Artsakh issue on 24-hour cycle by few times reiterating the demand to return Artsakh around the negotiation table. And don’t even ask whether he still insists on the Stepanakert’s participation or not. That was a statement made last year, wasn’t it? Why is it still important what he was insisting on? It’s more relevant what he is saying now. And if there is internal contradiction, then it’s your misunderstanding. 

Alternatively, he can insist that “Artsakh is Armenia, period!”. Good headline, good reactions, nice call in the rally. Why are the consequences of relevance? If he is compelled to, he can release a retraction note on the last page.

This is not the country built by Nikol Pashinyan alone. The consent to have such a country was forced upon the people, and through speculating on their emotions, as well as through pressures, the 24-hour cycle made its way. And one may not ask how come the Prosecutor General Arthur Davtyan who detained “bread-delivery-man”, proved the guilt of “Daredevils of Sassoun” and formerly considered to be corrupt now suddenly turns to be the best prosecutor. That’s how it is in this issue. Maybe same narrative will be there next week too.

There are no laws in the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State: there are political line and daily decisions of the PM-editor-in-chief. If there is a law that is an obstacle, it must be amended. There should not be any legal logic. If Mher Yeghiazaryan is preferred to be arrested, even if he is dying, then nothing else matters. If he thinks Hrayr Tovmasyan must leave, then all his godchildren shall be arrested. If he thinks that the court shall adopt a certain judgment, then the judge who delivered the alternative judgment must himself face criminal charges.

One fundamental piece of truth must be remembered about this regime: Nikol Pashinyan does not have either past or future. He lives only by the present moment. He is not interested what he himself has said, and neither is concerned what will happen next. It’s way more important what’s happening today.

Un the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State all the officials are journalists: prosecutor, minister, regional governor. The most successful minister is considered to be the one having majority coverage and attention in the social network, isn’t it? There is no government. It’s a regular editorial office, which has to satisfy one man’s ambitions, daily schedule and, of course, the worship. The cult of an individual is being smoothly rooted in this period, when the leader’s book is released, then it’s staged by performance, then the poem authored by him becomes a banner, monuments are being installed, caps, watches, comic books and vodka brands being mass produced, and in social networks wombs are being blessed by citizenry and his genitals worshipped.

And as it happens in every dictatorship, all the above is tailored around a new god. That’s why all the older religions are being uprooted. The Armenian Apostolic Church has been standing on their way exactly on this since day one, and very soon all other believers will do the same. That’s the reason why the attacks against the Church do not seize. And will never seize while Nikol Pashinyan’s regime lasts.

There is no dictatorship that does not have the support of the layer of workers and peasantry, as well as the intelligentsia in its roots. Today the representatives of our intelligentsia applauds to Nikol Pashinyan because most of them are afraid of him, some other segment believes in him and only a smaller layer stands up to him. End result is that the progressive Westerners, workers and peasantry and the intelligentsia have all created a new pasha – by Eastern customs and Western design.

Our new pasha, by the way, is a classical dictator, who has never been afraid of blood. Same way he had prompted blood on March 1 (2008), he ordered the special forces in Ijevan to beat people in their homes. Nikol Pashinyan responded to the developments in Ijevan with notorious cruelty so that he showcases his power to everyone.

All these are an extremely typical pattern. Both the developments, and the expected consequences demonstrate a typical pattern. Today Nikol Pashinyan has realized that his biggest enemy is neither Republican party, nor Kocharyan, nor any other state or specific subject. His greatest enemy is the reality. When the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State faces the reality, a crisis begins: people’s eyes will open up.

And the people will see that nothing has been done during the tenure of these authorities, nothing changed, and no decision has been adopted on any important problem. The state has wasted resources in 24-hour ruinous cycle, has jeopardized its physical existence and created extremely serious problems not for next months, but decades.

And everyone will stand up. Because people become citizens, the nation becomes state when they fight against the emerging dictatorship. When they realize that dictatorship, even the most benevolent one, cannot guarantee development, welfare and security; when they realize that a populist – irrespective of how convincing he sounds – will never walk his talk. That he is incapable of doing anything else but “likes” and selfies. That he is capable of insulting the world leaders only to get one internationally-sound selfie, without even reflecting of any consequences of this one selfie.

When the consequences gradually begin being felt, when the people see the dictatorship of populism, only then they will become citizens and will struggle for democracy. Before that happens, every day at 9:00AM in the morning we are destined to live in the “Haykakan Zhamanak”-State, where the PM-editor-in-chief, in sync with his yellow page agenda, will decide who is going to be arrested, who’s to be dishonored, what is he going to be proud of and who to take a selfie with".

Source Panorama.am
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