Azerbaijani forces continued to occupy Armenian territory and acted to impede the internal movement of Armenian residents. Freedom House

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The numerical scores and status listed above do not reflect conditions in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is examined in a separate report. Freedom in the World reports assess the level of political rights and civil liberties in a given geographical area, regardless of whether they are affected by the state, nonstate actors, or foreign powers. Disputed territories are sometimes assessed separately if they meet certain criteria, including boundaries that are sufficiently stable to allow year-on-year comparisons. For more information, see the report methodology and FAQ.

Armenia is in the midst of a significant transition following mass antigovernment protests and elections in 2018 that forced out an entrenched political elite. The new government has pledged to deal with long-standing problems including systemic corruption, opaque policymaking, a flawed electoral system, and weak rule of law. The country continues to be seriously affected by the 2020 conflict with Azerbaijan, which saw several months of fighting over control of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

  • In February, the Armenian military demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan following the dismissal of the country’s top military officer, leading to widespread antigovernment protests. Pashinyan initially refused to resign, and accused the army of attempting a coup, before resigning in April to trigger snap elections.
  • Snap parliamentary elections were held in June, following a months-long political crisis sparked by the defeat of Armenian forces in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Pashinyan remained in his post as prime minister when his Civil Contract Party (KP) won a parliamentary majority; two new electoral blocs, both under the leadership of former presidents, filled the remaining parliamentary seats.
  • In May, Azerbaijani forces advanced across the border into Armenia, reigniting the conflict and creating serious security concerns in the border regions. In November, large-scale hostilities broke out along the border, resulting in more than a dozen casualties from both sides, and the capture of 32 Armenian soldiers.

Through its significant majority, gained in a free and fair election, the Civil Contract Party controlled parliamentary decision-making after the June 2021 snap elections.

Though Pashinyan promised to loosen the influence of business over policymaking, two wealthy businessmen entered the parliament from his party list. Some opposition parliamentarians also maintain close ties to businesspeople.

Since facilitating the November 2020 cease-fire agreement ending the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia wields increased influence in Armenia as the main mediator in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations.

In February 2021, the Armenian military demanded the resignation of Pashinyan’s administration following the dismissal of Tiran Khachatryan, the military’s deputy chief of the general staff. In response, Pashinyan accused the army of attempting a coup, though the military took no further action.

The law protects freedom of movement and the rights of individuals to change their place of residence, employment, and education. In practice, access to higher education is somewhat hampered by a culture of bribery.

Effects of 2020 conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh persisted throughout 2021, continuing to constrain freedom of movement along some border areas. After the November 2020 cease-fire, Azerbaijani forces took control over a 21-kilometer (13-mile) stretch of the Goris-Kapan highway, the only major road connecting the Syunik region to the rest of Armenia, partitioning villages and affecting residents’ ability to move freely. In November 2021, Azerbaijani forces built new checkpoints along the road, further curtailing Armenian residents’ freedom of movement in the region.

Azerbaijani forces have continued to occupy Armenian territory throughout 2021, and have frequently acted to impede the internal movement of Armenian residents, using threat of force against civilians to exert control. In August, Azerbaijani servicemen erected roadblocks along an interstate highway, blockading a number of Armenian villages for several days. Several further cases of roadblocks and military checkpoints being used to restrict Armenian residents’ freedom of movement have been reported; according to the office of the Armenian Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman), there are no viable alternative routes for residents to avoid such interference.

Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 because Azerbaijani forces impeded internal movement, in part by occupying Armenian territory and erecting roadblocks.