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In the days before protesters overthrew Armenia's veteran leader, Russian officials had high-level phone contacts with the protest leaders and the ruling elite that was clinging to power, according to three people briefed on the discussions. Weeks of protests against corruption and cronyism culminated Tuesday in Nikol Pashinyan, the protest leader, becoming prime minister, in a dramatic rupture with the cadre of officials who have run this ex-Soviet state since the late 1990s.During the protests, Pashinyan spoke to the Russian Embassy in Yerevan, and to an official in the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, according to one of the protest leaders, Armen Grigoryan, and a businessman close to Pashinyan's circle who did not want to be identified.On the other side of the standoff, Serzh Sarksyan, Armenia's ruler for a decade, was in touch with Russian officials as he fought for survival, according to a diplomatic source who spoke on condition of anonymity.Russia's influence was not the only factor in Armenia's revolution.
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