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Armenian Opposition Stages Rally, Demands Pashinian’s Resignation


Protesters wave an Armenian national flag during a protest against an agreement to halt fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, in Yerevan, Armenia, November 11, 2020

Nearly two dozen Armenian opposition parties staged a rally in Yerevan on Wednesday afternoon demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

The demand has been made over a Russian-brokered agreement with Azerbaijan to stop a six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh largely viewed by Pashinian critics as an act of surrender.

Representatives of 17 opposition parties, including tycoon Gagik Tsarukian’s parliamentary Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), reiterated their call for the prime minister to step down, blaming him for what they described as heavy concessions Armenians had to accept as part of the deal.

Speakers at the rally attended by thousands in Liberty Square were addressing the crowd that was chanting “Nikol is a traitor” amid attempts by the police to stop the gathering.

Scuffles broke about between demonstrators and the police that had warned the organizers of the rally that it was illegal under the current martial law that was introduced at the start of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh in late September.

Under the provision of martial law political gatherings are banned in the country.

Ishkhan Saghatelian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), described Pashinian as the one responsible for the war.

“The war was brought to us by Nikol [Pashinian]. It was due to his inconsistent policies. He had spoiled our relations with our strategic allies, with the Russian Federation, with Tehran, isolated us from the entire world because of his lies and his being distrusted. And throughout the war he showed inaction and treachery,” Saghatelian said.

“Beginning from this moment there is no government in the Republic of Armenia. The government must resign so that we can save Armenia and Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh),” he added.

Saghatelian called on the parliament majority to convene a special session of parliament to remove Pashinian from power.

Other politicians at the rally, including Artur Vanetsian, former director of the National Security Service who currently leads the opposition Hayrenik (Homeland) party, also called for Pashinian’s resignation in their speeches.

The opposition parties announced the establishment of a “national salvation committee” amid reports that the National Security Service has been summoning their leaders, including Vanetsian and ex-President Serzh Sarkisian, who leads the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia.

Political tensions in Armenia grew early on November 10 when Pashinian announced a deal with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev under which Armenian forces would withdraw from much of the territory they controlled before the start of the war, with Russian peacekeepers deployed in the remaining part where ethnic Armenians live. He said it was the best possible option in conditions of a series of defeats suffered by the military in the battlefield.

The news about the deal triggered street disturbances in Yerevan, with angry mobs breaking into the government and parliament buildings during early hours of the morning on Tuesday.

Mobs ransacked offices and smashed windows in an outburst of anger. Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan was injured in a mob attack and was hospitalized, drawing a sharp rebuke from the government.

In an interview with Public Television last night Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian warned Armenia’s opposition against attempting a coup. At the same time, he did not exclude that the current government could resign.

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