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Armenian Police Clash With Protesters Angry About Truce Deal


People clash with police during a protest against an agreement to halt fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh, Liberty Square in Yerevan, Armenia, November 11, 2020

Armenian riot police clashed with demonstrators who had gathered in the capital amid anger over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s decision to sign an agreement with Azerbaijan to end more than six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Thousands of protesters filled Yerevan’s Liberty Square calling for Pashinian’s resignation despite a ban imposed on street rallies while martial law is in place.

The crowd chanted “Nikol is a traitor” amid attempts by police to prevent the gathering.

Ahead of the demonstration, the government warned the opposition against attempting a “coup” as tensions grew in the Caucasus nation after Pashinian signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

The announcement of the cease-fire deal early on November 10 sparked angry protests in the Armenian capital with demonstrators storming government buildings and parliament.

Representatives of 17 opposition parties called for Pashinian to step down, blaming him for what they described as heavy concessions Armenians had to accept as part of the deal.

Addressing the Yerevan rally, Ishkhan Saghatelian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutiun), charged that “the war was brought to us” by Pashinian and “his inconsistent policies.”

“Throughout the war he showed inaction and treachery,” Saghatelian added.

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 rally then continued near the government building where police had formed cordoned off by police. The leaders of the protest then also called for a special session of parliament to be convened and marched towards the National Assembly building where police had also put up cordons.

The opposition parties announced the establishment of a “homeland salvation committee” amid reports that some of their leaders, including Vanetsian, ex-President Serzh Sarkisian, who leads the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia, and leader of the largest parliamentary opposition party, Prosperous Armenia, Gagik Tsarukian had been summoned to the National Security Service.

Saghatelian said they were giving Pashinian until midnight to resign and also were giving the parliament majority until midnight to convene a special session to consider the removal of Pashinian from power. Otherwise, he said, they will present further steps by which they will "solve" the matter tomorrow.

Armenia’s police on Tuesday warned that holding rallies continues to be banned in the country, which has been under martial law since the latest fighting broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 27.

Speaking on state television, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian did not rule out that the current government could resign, but warned against any “coup” attempt.

“I want to assure all of the political forces that are trying to catch fish in murky waters in conditions of martial law that there will be no tolerance in this matter,” the deputy prime minister said.

He said that the time for looking for those responsible in a domestic political process will still come.

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