Protest Significantly Grows as its Leaders are Arrested

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Tens of thousands gather at Republic Square on the 9th day of protests against Serzh Sarkisian's rule (Yerkir Media photo)

Tens of thousands gather at Republic Square on the 9th day of protests against Serzh Sarkisian’s rule (Yerkir Media photo)

Three members of parliament detained by police

YEREVAN—Dramatic events on Sunday, punctuated by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian walking out of a meeting  with protest organizer Nikol Pashinyan and his subsequent arrest along with two other parliament members, prompted the undeterred population to turn out in droves at a rally Sunday night at Republic Square where calls for Sarkisian’s resignation continued as the popular protests entered their 10th day.

Soon after the failed meeting between Sarkisian and Pashinyan collapsed Sunday morning at the Marriot Hotel, the opposition leader began a march in the streets of Yerevan toward the Erebuni neighborhood, where masked policemen grabbed Pashinyan and took him to detention. Later in the day, Pashinyan’s Yelk bloc colleagues Ararat Mirzoyan and Sassoun Mikaelyan were also detained. The fate of the three parliament members will be decided by their legislative colleagues, who may vote to file official charged and strip them of their parliamentary immunity.

The arrest of the protest organizers, coupled with what can be characterized as Sarkisian’s disregard toward the concerns of the protesters, gave way to a surge in the protest attendance, with some media outlets placing the number at 70,000.

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Meanwhile, throughout the day, police clashed with protesters and in some instances deployed stun grenades, arresting several people. According to organizers some 300 people were behind bars as of Sunday night.

President Armen Sarkissian, who on Saturday went to Republic Square and by walking through the crowds met with Pashinyan, released a statement Sunday after the failed Sarkisian-Pashinyan meeting, lamenting the collapse of the meeting and urging a return to stability.

President Armen Sarkissian, on Saturday, went to Republic Square and met with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan. Following the meeting it was announced that Pashinyan and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian would meet Sunday morning

President Armen Sarkissian, on Saturday, went to Republic Square and met with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan. Following the meeting it was announced that Pashinyan and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian would meet Sunday morning

“The ongoing developments in our country have reached a dangerous point, which can lead to irreversible consequences,” said President Sarkissian in his statement. “Unfortunately, despite an earlier agreement, the negotiations were interrupted, when they might have led to de-escalating the situation.”

The president warned that the continuing protests “may undermine the country’s stability,” expressing hope for further dialogue.

“Thus, I call on all our citizens and our compatriots in the Diaspora to refrain from attempts of escalating the situation and to display restraint. The security of Armenia and Artsakh must not be jeopardized,” added Sarkissian.

The president also called on the Armenian people to stand united on the eve of April 24, the annual commemoration of the Armenian Genocide. He urged all Armenians to, on April 24,

“display nationwide, in both Armenia and Diaspora, maximum restraint for the world to see, and commemorate the memory of our holy martyrs united and collectively.”

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia in a statement renewed its calls for political dialogue saying there can be “no winners or losers” since the interests of the people far outweigh any side claiming victory.

The ARF Youth Organization of Armenia and the ARF Nikol Aghbalian Student Association announced that they will hold the annual procession of torches to Dzidzernagapert, which traditionally takes place on the evening of April 23, will take place as planned at 7 p.m.

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9 Comments

  1. Onnik Kiremitlian said:

    A rotten* S. Sargsyan with an equally rotten* ARF. Shame* on Dashnaktsutyun.

  2. Masis said:

    Mr Armen Sarkissian. What undermines our country is Serzh vowing to not becoming Prime Minister when he modified the constitution and now doing exactly what he said he would not do. Pick anyone, including his grandmother, but not him. We Armenians haven’t eaten hay. With him at the helm again, the Diaspora will not send you guys one dollar of assistance, most of which the ruling elite use to upgrade their villas and their European assets.

    It’s a shame that, as April 24th approaches, I’m not sure whether to lament the loss of our forefathers or the fact that Serzh will try to rule perpetually until his death, much akin to mid Eastern dictators. His $230M annual income in 2016 doesn’t help the matter.

  3. Vahe Baloulian said:

    Isn’t it time for ARF denounce its relationship with RP and stop selling out. Your founders would damn you for joining the enemy of the Armenian nation.

  4. Ishkhan said:

    MR. SAKISYAN’S ATTITUDE AND POINT OF VIEW DURING MEETING WITH MR PASHINIAN BECOME MORE OBVIOUS THAT HE IS NOT MENTALLY FIT FOR A HIGH OFFICE. USA

  5. Craig said:

    The Armenian Revolutionary Federation faction of the parliament should immediately cancel its coalition with Sargsyan’s ruling party.
    Where are the calls from the ARF to be with people, united?

  6. State of Emergency said:

    Where are all the other political parties or is destiny determined by 8% of the constituents?

    • Dashangs are the problem said:

      Comrade Stalin said: ‘I care little who shows up.at the voting booths even less who they vote for as long as.I am in charge of counting the votes. If you believe tbe ruling party of unlimited greed got 49.5% of the vote you probably also believe that Harry Potter is real (and an Armenian of course)

  7. Haig said:

    THERE IS NO TURNING BACK MR. CORRUPTED PRIME MINISTER.
    YOU ARE SMALL AND COWARD TO STAND AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PROUD ARMENIANS WHO DETEST YOU FOR YOUR TACTICS TO CREATE CIVIL CLASHES BETWEEN THE POLICE AND THEIR FELLOW ARMENIANS.
    NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO YOUR END MR. PRIME MINISTER IS IN SIGHT.
    THE ASSIGNED NEW PRESIDENT MUST RESIGN IF HE WANTS TO AVOID THE CIVIL CLASHES AMONG ARMENIANS.
    THE CHURCH OF ARMENIA MUST TAKE POSITION AND THE LEAST IT CAN DO WORK ON DIFFUSING THE CRISIS TO POTENTIALLY BREAK A CIVIL WAR.
    AS TO THE LAWMAKERS NOW IT IS THE TIME TO PUT ASIDE THEIR PERSONAL NEEDS AND HAVE THE COURAGE TO SPEAK UP AND DISOBEY THE UNLAWFUL AND DESPICABLE COMMANDS OF THE CORRUPTED GANG.
    SOONER OR LATER THIS CORRUPTED GANG SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE AND SHOULD BE TRIED FOR THE CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE.
    HOPE IT IS SOON SO THAT OTHER MISFORTUNES ARE AVOIDED.
    HAIG KARAYAN

  8. Dashnags are the problem said:

    As usual the Dashnag Party is out of touch. Better luck at choosing your political allies next time around. Dashnags are almost as despised as Serzhik was.

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