In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), RSC staff analyst Haykak Arshamyan assessed the broader significance of the ongoing hostage standoff in Armenia. Commenting on the “Founding Parliament” of Jirair Sefilyan, which the gunmen are affiliated with, Arshamyan noted that “they refuse [to participate in] the election process as it is today in Armenia due to violence and non-transparency in the system. And their program is that this government should resign and we should have a transition government and new elections," says Haykak Arshamyan, a political analyst at the Regional Studies Center in Yerevan. "Their ideas are a bit complicated and unclear."
For now, Sefilian and his movement remain marginal players in Armenia. But the resolution of the hostage crisis could determine whether they remain so or become a rallying point for wider public dissatisfaction with the government.
The gunmen have already killed one police officer. But Arshamyan says that, if the gunmen murder any hostages -- who include a deputy national police chief and a deputy head of the Yerevan police department, the action could tar the image of Armenia's opposition parties in general while rallying support for the government.
If the situation ends in such a way that any brutality is perceived as being carried out by the police, he says, and the gunmen can be seen as martyrs, the incident could instead help to consolidate political opposition groups against the ruling party.