Hope springs in the hometown of Armenia’s newly-named prime minister, for people see him as a man capable of articulating their long-simmering anger and determined to focus on their needs. Nikol Pashinyan was appointed prime minister on 8 May. “It is not just me but the whole nation, who is proud of Nikol,” said his 78-year-old father, Vova Pashinyan. “And he is even ready to give his life for his people.”
Pashinyan always has been a rebel. He was expelled from Yerevan State University where he was studying journalism for his criticism of the authorities. In 2010, he was convicted of organising mass riots and sentenced to seven years in prison, but he was freed the following year under an amnesty. His father recalled that his son once told him, “If I do not fight, how will our people live? In poverty? Unemployment?”
Pashinyan is forming a new government out of a diverse crew of political allies but must work with a parliament dominated by the party he denounced as corrupt. He also has to cope with the deadlock over the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and neighbouring Azerbaijan.
His first priority, however, is domestic policy and the economy. “People supported the opposition because Pashinyan saw our main problems,” said Meline Madatian, a 28-year-old university graduate who was trained in psychology but now works as a sales clerk for $60 a month.