Hundreds Detained In Yerevan Anti-Government Protests

By RFE/RL's Armenian Service

Armenian police have detained more than 400 people in Yerevan as protesters blocked streets during opposition-led demonstrations to force Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian from office.

Groups of protesters began blocking streets at 8 a.m. local time in an attempt to disrupt traffic and step up pressure on Pashinian's government. Opposition leaders claimed that demonstrators blocked more than 50 streets in various parts of the capital.

Riot police clashed with protesters and detained many of them as they stepped in to unblock the streets. The police reported a total of 414 arrests by the afternoon, a daily record since the opposition began a civil-disobedience campaign on May 1.

Demonstrations organized by the opposition since April 17 have called on the public to commit acts of civil disobedience, accusing Pashinian of what they said were unacceptable concessions made during negotiations with Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Pashinian has faced heavy criticism since he and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev agreed last month in Brussels to begin drafting a peace treaty to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and set up a joint commission on demarcating their common border.

The demonstration and clashes on May 17 came a day after police detained almost 100 drivers who took part in a car rally in Yerevan.

The previous day, police detained almost 100 drivers who took part in a car rally in Yerevan.

Azerbaijan wants the peace deal to be based on five elements, including a mutual recognition of each other’s territorial integrity.

Pashinian has publicly stated that the elements are acceptable to Yerevan in principle, fueling opposition claims that he is ready to recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia lost control over parts of the breakaway region in a 2020 war that ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire that an estimated 2,000 Russian troops have been deployed to monitor.

Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been under ethnic Armenian control for nearly three decades, is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.

Pashinian, who said he had agreed to the 2020 cease-fire to avoid further losses, said he would not sign any peace deal with Azerbaijan without consulting ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

With reporting by AFP