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Pashinian Persists With Regime Change Bid


Armenia - Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian addresses supporters in Yerevan's Republic Square, 19 April 2018.

Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian remained adamant in demanding Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation on Thursday, holding more protests and urging supporters to continue to block streets across Yerevan.

“Our revolution is unstoppable, our victory is inevitable because the atmosphere in Armenia has changed and the people no longer want to live in the Armenia that existed 15 days ago,” Pashinian told thousands of mostly young protesters who again gathered in the city’s Republic Square.

Pashinian claimed that the victory of his “velvet revolution” is imminent. At the same time he renewed his calls for government employees and even police officers to join the protests.

The Civil Contract party leader also called for a “total blockade” of streets of the Armenian capital which he said should start the following morning. His supporters have regularly shut down traffic in downtown Yerevan since the daily protests began a week ago.

Although Pashinian told the crowd to go home after wrapping up the rally late in the evening, dozens of cars carrying protesters started circling the vast square and honking their horns in support of their demands. They left the square half an hour later.

ARMENIA -- The scene as night fell on Republic Square in Yerevan, rings of police guarding a government building,
ARMENIA -- The scene as night fell on Republic Square in Yerevan, rings of police guarding a government building,

Earlier on Thursday, more than a hundred protesters were detained and kept in police custody for several hours. The police accused them of disrupting public order.

Meanwhile, the governing body of the ruling Republican Party (HHK) headed by Sarkisian held a weekly meeting just a few hundred meters away. The HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, reaffirmed afterwards its offer of “political dialogue” extended to Pashinian.

“We are ready to listen to the views of our political opponents and other citizens,” Sharmazanov told reporters. “We have no enemies in this country,” he said. “Everyone is our fellow citizen, our brother and sister.”

Sharmazanov would not be drawn on possible concessions to the opposition, saying that Pashinian must drop his “maximalist” demands first. He said while the authorities are intent on effecting “systemic changes” in the country Sarkisian’s resignation is out of the question.

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