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Armenian Opposition Leaders Arrested Amid Growing Political Tensions


ARMENIA -- People protest outside the government headquarters in Yerevan during a rally against the country's agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. November 11, 2020

Armenian opposition groups continue to push for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian despite the arrest of a dozen leaders on charges of organizing mass disorder.

A loose alliance of nearly two dozen opposition parties angered by Pashinian’s signing a Russian-brokered accord with Azerbaijan to end six weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh mostly on Baku’s terms planned a fresh anti-government protest rally in Yerevan on November 12.

But hours before of the planned rally, the Special Investigation Service said 10 prominent opposition figures had been arrested for “organizing illegal violent mass disorder.”

The announcement of the truce deal early on November 10 sparked a furious reaction in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, where angry protesters stormed government buildings and parliament.

The next day, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Yerevan, defying martial law, under which rallies are banned, calling Pashinian a “traitor.”

Representatives of 17 opposition parties called for Pashinian to step down, blaming him for what they described as heavy concessions.

Those arrested in the criminal case initiated by the Special Investigation Service include Gagik Tsarukian, leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, Homeland party leader Artur Vanetsian, Ishkhan Saghatelian and Gegham Manukian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), and Eduard Sharmazanov of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

The opposition parties denounced the arrests as illegal.

Meanwhile, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian held a meeting with Prime Minister Pashinian on Thursday morning, the president’s office said. The official report said that the current situation in the country was discussed. No details of the discussion were revealed.

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