According to recently released government statistics, the unemployment rate reached 19 percent during the first quarter of 2017, an increase from last year’s first quarter rate of 18.3 percent. An increase in social unrest is likely and protests cannot be ruled out, particularly given the preexisting political tensions.
With 33 percent of Armenians living in poverty, many youths emigrate to Russia to find work and send remittances home to family. Those who cannot afford to move abroad often turn to protesting against the government’s economic policies.
Political tensions have been high in Armenia since April 2 when President Serzh Sarksyan and his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) received 50.43 percent of the vote during parliamentary elections. The coalition garnered 28.29 percent. The opposition alliance, led by Gagik Tsarukyan, has claimed at least 320 cases of electoral fraud (as of April 2), accusing the government of manipulating the results to reinforce the power of the ruling party. Prior to the election, the European Union delegation and the United States Embassy had released a joint declaration in which they expressed concerns over the high probability of vote buying and voter intimidation by the ruling party.
Individuals present in Armenia are advised to avoid all political events and public gatherings as violence may flare up without warning.
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