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25 Sep, 2023 09:08

Police arrest dozens of anti-government protestors in Armenia (VIDEO)

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan refused to resign, sparking public demonstrations
Police arrest dozens of anti-government protestors in Armenia (VIDEO)

Yerevan police have detained dozens of protesters, as anti-government demonstrators geared up for the latest round of action to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

As of 10:00am local time (6:00am GMT) on Monday, police confirmed that 142 people were taken into custody, up from 53 an hour earlier. 

The protest organizers planned to occupy several major road crossings in the Armenian capital. Police have said that people who refuse lawful orders to disperse will be arrested.

Meanwhile, a court in Yerevan has ordered the one-month arrest of activist Levon Kocharyan, his attorney said. The son of ex-Armenian President Robert Kocharyan was taken into custody during a protest last Friday and is accused of attacking four police officers. The man was reportedly beaten when he was apprehended.

The protests in Yerevan, some of them violent, were triggered by last week’s flare up in Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population. In a swift military operation, Baku regained control over the region.

Some have rejected calls to reintegrate into Azerbaijan and are moving to Armenia. The government reported over 2,900 arrivals from the region’s capital, Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) by Monday morning, with around 1,100 of the refugees given shelter and 1,000 saying they can find a place to live.

Yerevan tacitly supported Nagorno-Karabakh’s bid for independence for decades. But the Pashinyan government formally acknowledged Baku’s sovereignty over the region last year during peace talks that followed bloody border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. 

The prime minister has distanced himself from the outcome of the hostilities, claiming that the safety of locals is Russia’s responsibility. Moscow deployed peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh in the wake of the 2020 war, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce.

Pashinyan has rejected calls for his resignation and promised a “tough response” from law enforcement, in line with his government’s “steel mandate.” He accused politicians linked to Nagorno-Karabakh of inciting violence in Armenia. 

Robert Kocharyan was born in Stepanakert and served terms as both president and prime minister of the self-proclaimed republic.