Hundreds of people blocked more streets in the center of Yerevan on Monday on the fourth day of their nonstop demonstrations aimed at preventing former President Serzh Sarkisian from extending his rule.
The protesters began the actions from a key street intersection that has been occupied by them since Friday. On Sunday, Nikol Pashinian, the main organizer of the protests, called for more large-scale “acts of civil disobedience” that would paralyze traffic in the Armenian capital. He also urged people to go on strike and boycott classes in universities.
Pashinian vowed to try to disrupt Tuesday’s session of the Armenian parliament during which Sarkisian is due to be elected prime minister. He pleaded with Armenians to take part in his rallies in larger numbers.
On Monday morning, Pashinian and a group of his supporters moved to nearby Marshal Bagramian Avenue leading to the parliament building, stopping public buses and cars in the process. Pashinian repeatedly apologized to commuters through a megaphone.
“With this minor inconvenience we are trying to save you from a greater inconvenience called Serzh Sarkisian,” shouted the outspoken head of the opposition Civil Contract leader.
Lines of riot police stopped them from advancing further towards the National Assembly building. Pashinian told the small crowd to avoid any violent confrontations with the policemen.
Meanwhile, a separate group of more than 100 protesters, most of them university students, blocked traffic through other streets in downtown Yerevan, chanting “Boycott! and “Join us!”
Few passengers seemed to heed the appeal as they were forced to disembark stranded buses. Some bus and car drivers angrily argued with the students. But two at least drivers voiced support for the action.
A police officer at the scene warned the protesters to unblock a busy street junction. “You are restricting others’ rights,” he said. “Why are you taking illegal actions?”
Police presence in the blocked streets was otherwise minimal.
In a statement released on Sunday, the national police service warned Pashinian and his team against “jeopardizing citizens’ rights and freedoms and legitimate interests of organizations.”