Another rally, held on Aug. 1, also declared forbidden by the authorities, was rumored to be staging a “revolution”—if jailed oppositionists considered political prisoners were not set free. At the rally, the formation of the Armenian National Congress—a union of opposition parties that have joined forces with Ter-Petrossian in his anti-government campaign—was announced.
Despite the tremendous support for Ter-Petrossian displayed at such public gatherings, some believe that the movement for change has surpassed the opposition leader.
As a result of the post-election chaos, over 100 people were arrested on largely trumped-up charges; over 70 are considered to be political prisoners by the opposition. Some oppositionists have been sentenced, including two loyalists of Ter-Petrossian who revealed the identities of two undercover National Security Service operatives stationed in Liberty Square during the post-election protests.
Various theories have been circulating by word of mouth and even suggested in the press that weapons were planted at the site of the sit-in protest at Liberty Square in the early hours on March 1 to legitimize the necessity for a sweeping crackdown. Eyewitnesses at the site of the clash between protesters and police during the evening hours claim that petty criminals with no connection to the demonstration were onsite to instigate the violence.
Government officials, including President Sarkisian himself, have had no choice but to justify the attacks made on civilians to save face, no matter how unpopular the outcome of the clashes with citizens was. Nevertheless, the president has been taking steps to distance himself from those believed to have been linked to the events by firing them from their posts, namely the head of the national police, Hayk Harutiunian, and the national interior troops commander, Grigor Grigorian. Critics, however, believe that the president is simply “cleaning house” by assigning loyalists to such positions.