UPDATE: Stepanakert Protests End

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Protesters flood Stepanakert streets for a third day on Monday (ArtsakhPress photo)

Protesters flood Stepanakert streets for a third day on Monday (ArtsakhPress photo)

STEPANAKERT—Organizers of demonstrations in the streets of the Artsakh Republic capital announced moments ago that would halt the street protests after reaching an agreement with Artsakh President Bako Sahakian and heeding the call from Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Demonstrations in the streets of the Artsakh Republic capital had continued for a third day, with a group of protest representatives who met with Sahakian saying they were not satisfied with the result of their negotiations with the Artsakh head of state.

In Yerevan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan urged an end to the protests in Artsakh disseminated through a Facebook Live post. He called on protesters to allow the Artsakh authorities time to act on the issues discussed during meetings with government officials.

“It is my brotherly wish and urging for protesters to stop the demonstration. The protesters have reached their goals. The ball is in the Artsakh leadership’s court. If things don’t happen within the confines of the agreements, the protesters can bring the ball back to their court,” said Pashinyan.

The protests began in earnest on Saturday in reaction to a scuffle the night before between civilians and Artsakh National Security Service officers who allegedly beat up two Stepanakert residents, after which 15 people were detained.

The protesters have been demanding the ouster of Artsakh’s Chief Prosecutor Artur Mosiyan, head of police Kamo Aghajanyan, and head of the Artsakh’s National Security Service Arshavir Gharamyan.

After meeting with protesters on Sunday, President Sahakian convened yet another meeting with protest leader on Monday to further discuss the protesters demands.

Artsakh President Bako Sahakian (center) meets with protest representatives

Artsakh President Bako Sahakian (center) meets with protest representatives

The President noted that the incident that took place in the evening of June 1 in Stepanakert has been condemned by the state, qualified as unacceptable and received legal assessment.

“The investigation will be unconditionally conducted in strict accordance with the letter and spirit of the law, with the maximum degree of transparency, with the society being regularly informed about the process. All the perpetrators will be held accountable according to the procedures established by the law,” Sahakian said in his remarks to the protest delegation.

The President underlined that such incidents as well as their politicization and various speculations were unacceptable in Artsakh and are rife with threats to national security and dividing Artsakh’s civil society.

“In this context I would like to specifically appeal to our people and rely on their wisdom, their ability to navigate in complex situations, to show restrains and a comprehensive balanced approach, to make correct decisions, display caring and compassionate attitude toward important issues,” said Sahakian.

He said that fostering of domestic stability, unity and cohesion, keeping the state institutions unharmed, continued enhancement of the country’s security and defense capacity, ensuring the peaceful conditions of our citizens’ work and life, solution of important social and economic issues aimed at improving the people’s living conditions were of utmost importance for him and the government of Artsakh.

Protest leader Davit Simonyan, said that Sahakian promised to make changes, reported ArtsakhPress.

”At the meeting the question of making changes in power structures was raised. However, it was not completely accepted by the president,” Simonyan told protesters after his meeting with Sahakian, according to ArtsakhPress.

“Bako Sahakian promised to undertake systemic improvements, which will be connected not with changes of officials but with changes in the general policy and daily operations. In addition, the president suggested to form a public council, in which a group of participants of our initiative will also be included,” added Simonyan who called on his fellow demonstrators to signal their level of satisfaction with the talks. The protesters expressed discontent with the meeting and vowed to continue the demonstration.

Artsakh’s human rights defender, Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan said he hoped the measures the government had already taken would have quick results.

“The government responded by arresting the participants of the incident and meeting the protesters to discuss their complaints. Many high-ranking officials, including the president, met the protesters. Also, a special commission is to be established in the National Assembly [Nagorno-Karabakh’s parliament] to investigate the wrongs of the past,” Melikyan told OC Media.

His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, spoke with Sahakian earlier and pledged his support for the Artsakh authorities.

Aram I said that challenges should be solved in an atmosphere of understanding and the parties should be guided by vigilance and wisdom to refrain from creating an atmosphere that could threaten Artsakh’s security.

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