by David Stepanyan
On January 18, a youth public interest group “I am Against!” organized a rally in Yerevan once again demonstrating that the new generation of Armenians tries not to repeat the mistakes of the older generation. The youth actively opposed the pension ‘reform’ initiated by the authorities that will lead to 6.6%-13% reduction of salaries in favor of the government. The reform is built on rather a doubtful perspective of getting back the pension payments in 30 years. In other words, people protest the authorities that have failed to meet the expectations of voters and not the idea of pension reform. The issue of non-confidence in the government is brought to a head by the young generation that no longer wants to bear the years-long robbery of the population and not by the parliament opposition that had discredited itself long ago.
In fact, the pension funds operating in the USA and Europe for many years rely on the financial system of those countries, gold reserve, real sector of economy and, which is perhaps the most important, the public trust in the authorities. Meanwhile, Armenia has none of these components. Actually, the authorities once again try to make the people believe in another ‘soap bubble.’ It is noteworthy that the employed citizens already pay 25% income tax from their salaries. Part of these payments is transferred to pensioners. No one known what will happen to the country governed by the weak-willed unpredictable authorities, influenced by external powers. Therefore, it is not clear why should the youth lose another 10% of its salary in average along with the 25% income tax. The authorities have deceived the Armenian public for many times over the last 23 years. People lost their deposits with banks, suffered from rapid robbery-like privatization, from games on AMD-USD exchange rate, sale of the country’s gold reserve that was concentrated in the hands of 20 families. These are only few examples of how the authorities deceive the people. Considering the way passed by the authorities over the last 23 years, the citizens born after 1974 will hardly receive their accumulated pensions when they reach the pension age. In this light, the youth have all the grounds not to trust in the authorities.
The fight of the citizens against the government’s another idea of robbery will be a success, at least, due to a number of reasons. This time, the government’s unreasonably high appetite affects the youth, particularly, employees of the IT-sector, bank officers, journalists and employees of the few successfully developing companies in Armenia. These are the people who receive high salaries, pay taxes, and do not violate fiscal laws. Meanwhile, the given ‘reform’ will actually pass by the employees of “shadow” companies that belong to the people called oligarchs by mistake and pay miserably low taxes. That is why, the Movement “I am Against!” have brought together young, clever citizens who are aware of their worth, who do not want to bear the outrage and, unlike the previous generation, they do not think that “everything in the hands of the authorities and they do everything they want.” Meanwhile, these young citizens want to live in their independent country liberated by Monte, Leonid, Arthur, Ashot, Zhirayr and hundreds of others who fought for good ideas and not for money and power. Meanwhile, very similar authorities have been replacing each other over the last 23 years gradually killing the idea and fighting for money.
Judging by the actions of the movement “I am Against!”, the Armenian youth is now trying to return to the early 90s: from the fight for money to the fight for the idea. They take the Karabakh Movement for independence as an example in the fight for their rights. The protests against “the pension reform” are just “the top of the iceberg” of public discontent. Economic stagnation, unemployment, extremely low level of social and legal protection, unprecedented migration scales, the outrage of a group of the persons “affiliated with the authorities” are just few reasons of the current public discontent. Furthermore, there is an impression that Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union will just deteriorate the situation.
Last summer the Movement displayed well-organized, consistent and determined fight against the decision to increase transport fares. Later on January 18 2014 the youth reaffirmed its decisiveness to fight the authorities and the forceful introduction of the pension system, as the authorities extremely need money to prevent financial default and collapse of the statehood. Actually, representatives of the ‘decaying’ opposition have also felt the determination and potential of the young generation and joined their Movement. Hopefully, the authorities will feel that as well…