Armenian protesters demand prime minister’s resignation over Azerbaijan border deal

Bagrat Galstanyan at a protest in Yerevan on Thursday. Photo: Narek Aleksanyan

Bagrat Galstanyan at a protest in Yerevan on Thursday. Photo: Narek Aleksanyan

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Thursday to demand the resignation of prime minister Nikol Pashinyan over a deal to cede several border villages to neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Telegram channel Bagramyan 26 reported that the rally was attended by between 18-20,000 people, making it Armenia’s largest mass protest since the 2018 revolution that brought Pashinyan to power.

Many of the protesters had marched to Yerevan from Armenia’s northeastern Tavush province on its border with Azerbaijan, where the villages in question are located, as part of the “Tavush for the Homeland” protest movement. Led by archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, the movement aims to halt Armenia’s demarcation of its border with Azerbaijan.

Speaking at Thursday’s rally in Yerevan, Galstanyan had first said that the protesters would give Prime Minister Pashinyan an hour to tender his resignation, before announcing that the opposition would begin impeachment proceedings against him.

“He constantly visited our villages in Tavush, lied, misled, and ultimately terrorised and threatened the people. We have come to demand answers for all of this”, Galstanyan said.

As of Friday morning, Pashinyan had not commented on the protests or Galstanyan’s demands.

The two countries had begun the border demarcation process in earnest on 19 April with a deal for the four Tavush province villages to be transferred from Armenia to Azerbaijan.

The transfer, hailed by Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Aykhan Hajizada as a “long-awaited historic event” as the villages had been “under occupation since the early 1990s”, sparked protests in the Tavush province.

On Saturday, Galstanyan announced Tavush for the Homeland’s decision to “march with its people to Yerevan and demand answers” to stop what he called the “massive bleeding process from north to south” that accompanied the border demarcation, saying that Pashinyan “cannot make decisions alone”.

Thursday’s protest in Yerevan followed a meeting on Wednesday between Pashinyan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, in which Russia agreed to withdraw some of its troops from Armenia’s border regions.

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