Armenia is the most ethnically homogeneous of all the post-Soviet states. But it has become a pioneer in the Caucasus by being the first country in the region to offer guaranteed parliamentary representation to its minority communities.
Following April’s elections, Armenia now has four ethnic minority MPs – one each from the country’s Yezidi, Assyrian, Kurdish, and Russian communities – in its 105-seat parliament.
But the process by which they were elected, which required them to ally with one of Armenia’s existing political parties, raises doubts about the extent to which they can effectively represent minority interests.
The four new minority deputies are: Arsen Mikhaylov, the long-time president of the Assyrian community organization “Atour”; Yezidi representative Rustam Makhmudyan; the Kurdish community leader Knyaz Hasanov; and Tatyana Mikaelyan, a former bank manager born in Tatarstan, representing the Russian community. Hasanov even chaired the new parliament’s inaugural session under a tradition giving the oldest member that honor.
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Maxim Edwards is a writer and commissioning editor at openDemocracy Russia (oDR).