RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Autor)
YEREVAN -- Armenian authorities have lifted some restrictions on public rallies and strikes, restrictions imposed more than two months ago amid fierce fighting over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The decision, announced on December 2, came about three weeks after the signing of a Russian-brokered cease-fire that ended the worst fighting in three decades and resulted in Azerbaijani forces retaking much of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.
The cease-fire announcement, and the loss of territory long controlled by ethnic Armenians, sparked protests, with thousands taking to the streets in Yerevan to demand the ouster of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
On December 2, some 4,000 demonstrators marched through the city center, chanting slogans such as “Nikol, you traitor!”
In its decree, the government said it was lifting restrictions on holding rallies and strikes, as well as relaxing rules for entry to and exit from the South Caucasus country.
Also lifted were restrictions on local media publications and broadcasters that had been required to only publish official government information when reporting on military activity.
The government declared martial law on September 27, when fighting erupted in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in what became the worst clashes over the region since the early 1990s.
Russia has deployed nearly 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the cease-fire, help the return of refugees, and ensure safe transit through a 5-kilometer-wide area connecting Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia across the so-called Lachin Corridor.
Ethnic Armenians had governed their own affairs in Nagorno-Karabakh, with support from Armenia, since Azerbaijan's troops and Azeri civilians were pushed out of the region in a war that ended in a cease-fire in 1994.
Crucially, the Moscow-brokered agreement leaves the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh unresolved.
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