Will elections in self-proclaimed Karabakh be postponed
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed that the “presidential” and “parliamentary” elections scheduled for March 31 in the self-proclaimed “NKR” will be held on time. Officially, no coronavirus cases were detected in the territory of the unrecognized republic, while the number of infected in Armenia exceeded 400.
The information policy on the territory of the so-called "NKR" allows for strict censorship of any media that undermine the authority of the local political elite in one way or another. However, the number of those doubting the need to hold elections against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic is growing in the unrecognized republic. This is due to the fact that preventive measures in "NKR" are limited to short quarantine, self-isolation or recommendations.
The number of infected in Armenia is growing steadily, while no coronavirus cases were detected in the territory of the unrecognized republic. This causes justifiable doubts, since checkpoints on the so-called border of Armenia and "NKR" were not closed during the coronavirus outbreak in Armenia. The “border” was closed only from the Azerbaijani side, while from the Armenian side it was available for the transport of goods, including from Iran, where the spread of coronavirus reached terrifying levels.
Now the self-proclaimed "NKR" government is striving to improve the social climate by the presence of foreign observers and journalists in the so-called elections. The local "political elite" is trying to demonstrate the safety of staying on the territory of the "NKR" despite the fact that all public events are banned.
The optimism of the society is artificially supported, and the pandemic has already raised uncomfortable questions. People living in the territory of the unrecognized republic draw attention to the fact that the media have practically no information about the real healthcare situation, the number of ventilators available. There is no information in the media about providing pharmacies with the necessary amount of personal protective equipment.
Moreover, in Armenia, Karabakh is represented as an "island" miraculously bypassed by the coronavirus.
At the same time, there is a split among the candidates in the "NKR" - not everyone is in favor of voting at the appointed time. Among them are the "hero" of the Karabakh war, former "Minister of Defense" Vitaly Balasanyan and "Minister of Foreign Affairs" Masis Mayilyan. Another likely candidate to be the head of the unrecognized republic, economist Araik Harutyunyan, speaking on behalf of the current regime, gave no comments on the situation ahead of the election, focusing on his own election campaign, since his main opponent in the election, Masis Mayilyan, enjoys the support of Yerevan.
The sincerity of candidates' statements has already raised doubts, since the timing of the elections has been approved, and it cannot be changed without Yerevan's recommendations, which confirmed the immutability of the vote. Therefore, the concerns expressed by the candidates are perceived as another electoral move, the purpose of which is to demonstrate concern over the virus outbreak.
Pashinyan, however, runs the risk of gaining fame as a politician who, for the sake of personal political interests, did not put the epidemiological situation in Armenia at risk, but ignored it in the self-proclaimed Karabakh. The Armenian prime minister hopes for a successful election, paying particular attention to the fact that the future leader of the self-proclaimed regime should not be in stiff opposition to the new Armenian leadership, since otherwise it will not be able to collaborate with the diaspora and unrecognized Karabakh.
Pashinyan’s intervention in the political processes of the “NKR” is fraught with much more complex processes than the ineffective prevention of coronavirus. After the election, the Armenian PM intends to begin the process of the complete reorganization of the self-proclaimed NKR, including its ideology based on the "holy feat" of the war participants. This process is dangerous because the current age opposition in the person of the "veterans" of the Karabakh conflict, which is distrustful of Pashinyan, can be replaced by a young, still fragile, but decisive force that can easily become eternal headache for Pashinyan and his proteges in the "NKR".