Saturday, October 18, 2008

Walking up Mashtots Boulevard, known here by its old Soviet-era name, Prospect, short for Lenin Prospect, the crowds became thicker, as a large number of Yerevantsis and others had gathered near the Matenadaran to hear Levon Ter Petrosyan’s plans for the newly-formed Armenian National Congress and his thoughts about the political strategies of Serge Sargsyan concerning the solving of the Karabagh conflict and other matters. Arriving just before seven, we heard Ter Petrosyan’s voice echoing over the loudspeakers, and slowly made our way through the crowds up the stone steps, noticing people standing and sitting throughout the entire area beneath where the speaker and his entourage were standing. Although not adept at estimating crowd sizes, it would seem that up to 50,000 were present, not what organizers had hoped for but still a sizable throng. Looking down the stone walkway, I saw several Armenian flags waving, and one that simply said “Aparan.” Heritage party members gathered in an area alongside the walkway. Noteworthy was the fact that people were seriously listening to what Levon had to say, even though many there undoubtedly disapprove of the politician, but support the cause, including the ousting of the current rulers.

“All I have to do is look at the faces of the higher-ups in today’s government, and I get sick,” an acquaintance said. “Something has to change, before it’s too late.”

Another said she had come for the “cause,” as she said, “Hearing Levon’s voice makes me sick, but if things stay the same, we’re finished.”

Just after darkness fell, it was announced that the rally would continue at Northern Avenue, and directions were given as to which route to take to get there. Most of the thousands present, young and old alike, marched down the right lane of the street below the Matenadaran, with police walking along the white lines and traffic crawling along the other lane. Marchers waved flags and shouted “Serzhik heratsek,” “Levon Nakhagah,” and “Hayastan, azat ankakh.”

“Whether one sides with Levon, or Serge Sargsyan,” an onlooker said, “It’s good to see the energy here, to see that people haven’t given up. That fact alone gives me hope.”

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