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Armenian Opposition Groups Stage Protests Over Border Demarcation Risks


Karin Tonoyan (C), leader of the “5165” opposition movement, addresses a rally in front of the central government office in Yerevan, Armenia, November 22, 2021.

A number of mostly fringe opposition groups in Armenia staged protests in Yerevan on Monday, expressing their concern about what they described as a potentially risky border demarcation with Azerbaijan and demanding that the government reveal details of the process expected to begin soon.

After deadly clashes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border last week Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said that Armenia received proposals from Russia on the “preparatory stage” for the process of delimitating and demarcating its Soviet-era border with Azerbaijan. He said that the proposals were acceptable to Yerevan. Azerbaijan did not respond immediately to what appeared to be a Russian offer also made to Baku.

Armenia’s hardline opposition groups began today’s protests in Yerevan in the morning by temporarily blocking traffic in several central streets. Some protesters were briefly detained by police.

Among active participants of the protests were the “5165” movement led by Karin Tonoyan, the Zartonk national Christian party led by former chairman of the Chamber of Advocates Ara Zohrabian as well as former lawmaker Sofya Hovsepian and other individuals.

The protesters said they believe that the document on the demarcation of the border with Azerbaijan may harm Armenia’s interests. In particular, they expressed their concern that by signing such a document Armenia may recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, which, in their view, will harm the aspiration of local ethnic Armenians for self-determination.

“Is there another country in the world, another democracy where only one person decides the fate of the whole nation? Our Constitution gives us the right to be informed on what is being decide about our country,” Tonoyan said.

She urged people to join their demonstrations. “The only thing that is required of you is to take to the streets, stand up and demand your right to be informed. We don’t want anything else at this moment,” she added.

The protesters submitted an application to the government and then moved to the presidential office and the National Assembly building.

In the evening, protesters gathered for a rally in Yerevan’s central Republic Square, then marched through the central streets of the capital.

Arpi Davoyan, a member of the pro-government Civil Contract faction in parliament, responded to the protesters’ demand. In a Facebook post she wrote: “The people who have gathered demand the publication of some imaginary content of a document, spreading panic and instability in the process. This is tantamount to demanding in mid-summer an estimate of the amount of snow expected in the coming winter.”

There was no immediate response from the government to the protesters’ demand.

The prime minister’s office, however, announced that Pashinian will answer questions of media and public organizations live on Facebook on Tuesday evening.

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