Opposition leader Nikol Pashinian was released from custody on Monday as massive anti-government protests organized by him continued in Yerevan and other parts of Armenia.
Pashinian was set freed, along with two other opposition lawmakers detained on Sunday, after meeting with Firs Deputy Prime Minister Karen Karapetian at a detention site in the city’s southern Erebuni district.
Pashinian was mobbed by scores of supporters demonstrating in Erebuni. They chanted “Nikol!” as he marched with them towards the city center.
Pashinian said he will give details of his conversation with Karapetian at a rally that will be held in Republic Square in the evening. “I won’t comment for one or two hours,” he told reporters. “I will give answers to all questions at the rally.”
Pashinian scheduled the “victorious rally” for 6:30 p.m. local time when he reached the square and briefly addressed a large crowd that gathered there. “It’s clear that we have won, right?” he said.
“I am now going to meet with Mr. Pashinian so that we negotiate and find a solution,” Karapetian said earlier in the afternoon after an emergency meeting with President Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
Karapetian also told reporters that they decided to ask prosecutors to refrain from petitioning the Armenian parliament to allow the prosecution of Pashinian and two other opposition parliamentarians detained on Sunday. He did not comment further.
Earlier in the afternoon, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Prime Minister Sarkisian’s junior coalition partner, met with Pashinian in custody. “This meeting gives us hope that further dialogue could take place,” Hrant Markarian said in a statement.
“Dashnaktsutyun does not agree with the arrests but it is also against [opposition] ultimatums,” he said.
The urgent talks came as tens of thousands of people again flooded streets of Yerevan and other cities to demand Sarkisian’s demonstration. Many streets in the Armenian capital were blocked as a result.
Pashinian was detained on Sunday more than an hour after holding a short and tense meeting with Prime Minister Sarkisian which was meant to defuse the serious political crisis in Armenia. At that meeting held in the presence of journalists, Sarkisian rejected Pashinian’s demands for his resignation.