On October 22, Vice-President of the Republican Party Eduard Sharmazanov was hosted at Sunday program of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (“Azatutyun”). Talking of the progress Armenia registered during the ten years of Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency, he noted, “Democracy is on an entirely new level in Armenia. Open all the reports; remember the year 2008 and today. Freedom of speech is on an entirely new level in Armenia; freedom of conscience is on an entirely new level in Armenia; dialogues in Armenia, the assessment of elections. There are also developments related to democracy”.
Nevertheless, democracy and freedom of speech suffered a decline compared to 2008. This means that Eduard Sharmazanov does not lie about the different level of democracy. However, he lies about its progress.
So, let us open any of the reports as per his suggestion, namely the 2008 “Nations in Transit” annual report of Freedom House international human rights organization. We will see that Armenia’s score was 5.21 on the scale of 7 in 2008, where the most democratic countries have the score of 1, and the most autocratic ones have the score of 7. In 2009, the score became 5.39, after which it was stabilized at 5.36-5.41 interval during the 10 years of Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency. Thus, for instance, it was 5.39 in 2017 as it was in 2009, i.e. stable bad.
Moreover, in 2015 and before that, the annual research of Economist Intelligence Unit on democracy trends described Armenia as a “hybrid regime”, i.e. a state system located between democracy and autocracy. In 2015, Armenia ranked 116th among world countries, closing the list of hybrid regimes. Since 2016, however, Armenia ranked 120th and was assessed as an “authoritarian regime”.
In fact, the reports of two leading international organizations on democracy in Armenia show that the country has suffered a regression. Hence, a question arises whether Eduard Sharmazanov grasps the meaning of “progress” correctly.