We have less than a month to go before we reach the 25th anniversary of our independence on 21 September 2016. This day should be one of joy and celebration, but is often a time when we also look at the current state of Armenia and are reminded that it is still one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union.
In today's society, corruption is running rampant with a significantly large gap between the rich and poor Armenians. Armenians tend to focus on their existence and don't often think about what is happening in the rest of the world.
Nowadays, there are a substantial number of Armenians, the older ones particularly, who long to go back to the days of the former Soviet Union. They may have had few possessions in those days, but were still guaranteed a job, a home, food, water, electricity, and gas. Education and medical insurance were also taken care of for them.
Now, there are no such guarantees for Armenian citizens. In 2013, the government initiated a pension reform program to assist pensioners. The program, however, caused an outcry among the workers whose salaries became less and less as they were forced to contribute to the pension program. The working public took to the streets in demonstrations. Further increases in transit fees in 2013 and electricity costs in 2015 made life even more costly.
During the Soviet era, Armenia's students were able to study at top universities based on their academic performances. Now, this is simply no longer the case. Average students can attend elite universities by payment of expensive tuition and don't need even to attend their classes.
The same applies to health care. Financial bribes will ensure that an operation and extensive treatment are carried out effectively. Otherwise, patients sometimes have to wait too long to receive medical assistance.
Although Armenia is an independent nation, it still operates much like a Russian colony in some ways. Russia still provides us with most of our gas supplies and owns the pipeline through which we deliver our gas nationwide. Armenia's largest electric utility is also owned by a Russian company.
Armenia had the opportunity to reduce its dependency on Russia in 2013 when we could have signed an association agreement with the European Union (EU). When Armenians were eager for the country to join the EU, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, met with Armenian President, Serzh Sargsyan to discuss the matter. The outcome of that meeting led to Armenia joining the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Community and not the EU. Armenians protested, but their cries were not heard.
Russia has a stronghold on Armenia's economy and has also stationed troops in the country to keep an eye on the vassal. Putin will do his utmost to prevent Armenia from having a pro-Western political movement or a color revolution like Georgia and Uzbekistan.
Although Russian troops will protect Armenia from foreign threats, they may also intervene in Armenia's internal affairs. As Russia's economic and military subjugation of Armenia continues, we don't see it as an independent nation.
As we celebrate our independence day, many of us will consider what our country would have been like, had we not remained under Russia's watchful eye?