Youth protesting as Yerevan sends students to war
Armenia’s National Assembly adopted the draft law "On military service and the status of serviceman" in the second and final reading.
The new legislation is expected to abolish temporary exemptions from military service. In addition, the new law would limit educational opportunities for Armenian people.
The new bill provides for compulsory military service for all categories of students. The postponement of the army for educational purposes will be given only to those students who will sign a civil legal contract with the Defense Ministry.
The draft was supported by 86 deputies, including representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, the Tsarukyan block and the Dashnaktsutyun (ARF-D) party, six members of the Yelk block opposed the draft law.
The bill caused a wide wave of public disapproval and discontent in the Armenian society. Moreover, students from the initiative "For the Development of Science" went out to protest and boycotted classes for a week.
Armenia’s National Assembly adopted the draft law in the first reading on October 27. According to the country's leadership, it will help to eliminate possible corruption risks.
The press secretary of the Armenian National Congress Arman Musinyan, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the draft law will damage the development of science in Armenia and will not help solve the Armenian army's problems.
At the same time, the draft law clearly demonstrates the government's attempts to solve the republic's problems. "It's not even about the army, it's about the current government approach to solving the problems that Armenia faces, whether it is the state of the armed forces, the lack of a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or the development of science and education. Their point of view is wrong. I think that the best way for the government would be to deal with those strategic issues of Armenia, the solution of which would automatically resolve many other problems," Arman Musinyan stressed.
The politician found it difficult to predict the scope of the protests against this law. "The guys are trying to cancel the law that damages science, so that they have the opportunity to engage in science without a break. I cannot yet say what response it will draw. It is worth noting that the fact of the adoption of the law in the final reading will have a negative impact on the mobilization of students of a wider range, because people may think that everything has been already decided," the press secretary of the Armenian National Congress said.
An MP from Tsarukyan faction Naira Zohrabyan, in turn, explained that members of the faction voted for the law as the lesser of evils. "We supported it not because this is the most optimal decision, but because corruption in the sphere of higher education has reached a global scale. In fact, the government recognizes that the law is incapable of resisting corruption. Our statistics show that all post-graduate degree places have been occupied by the children of deputies, high-ranking officials and oligarchs," she explained.
"Of course, we understand that the draft law will not be able to solve the whole block of problems in the sphere of higher education, and we have fears that in the end it will turn out that those few places for talented children will again be occupied by the children of deputies and high-ranking officials. The case is that only 2% of graduate students engage in scientific activities after their graduation. That is, postgraduate studies in Armenia are used as a kind of bulletproof vest that protects a person from serving in the army," Naira Zohrabyan added.
The MP stressed that she understands the protesting students. "They do not believe that this law will work, but it will be our task to make the law work," she said.
"As a deputy, I conducted internal monitoring of 'diseases' of children of high-ranking officials who did not go to the army - for some reason they got allergies. This law also gives at least some chance to restore justice in the case of such 'seasonal allergies'," Naira Zohrabyan concluded.