Thousands gathered in Yerevan’s Liberty Square on Wednesday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, with the opposition forces that organized the gathering calling for the immediate formation of “Homeland Salvation” Committee.
The protests were sparked by Pashinyan’s announcement Monday that he had signed an agreement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan to end the 45-day war in Artsakh, which was started on September 27 when Azerbaijani forces, aided by Turkey and Ankara-backed terrorists, launched an aggressive attack on Artsakh.
The agreement, which went into effect at 1 a.m. on Tuesday (local time), includes the surrender of territories in Artsakh, including Shushi and calls for the immediate deployment of Russian peacekeepers along the line of contact, as well as border guards at Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan to facilitate the easy transport between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan.
Addressing the Yerevan rally, ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Ishkhan Saghatelyan, said that Pashinyan“brought to war to us” through what he said was his“his inconsistent policies.”
“He [Pashinyan] had damaged our relations with our strategic allies, with the Russian Federation, with Tehran, isolated us from the entire world because of his lies and he was being distrusted. And throughout the war he showed inaction,” Saghatelyan said.
“From this moment on there is no government in the Republic of Armenia. The government must resign so that we can save Armenia and Artsakh,” he added.
He also gave Pashinyan until midnight to submit his resignation and called on the parliament’s majority My Step faction to convene an emergency session to vote for next steps. Otherwise, he said, he and the other opposition forces will present further steps to address the matter on Thursday.
The Bright Armenia party and the Prosperous Party of Armenia, the opposition forces represented in parliament, had proposed a special session of parliament to address the agreement, which was signed without the legislatures consideration or input. The ruling My-Step faction on Wednesday rejected the call, instead urging the opposition forces to present a roadmap that could serve as the basis for a future legislative discussion.
The ARF along with 16 other opposition forces that were that had called the Wednesday protest announced the establishment of a “Homeland Salvation” committee.
Riot police also clashed with demonstrators in an attempt to disperse the gathering, which is deemed unlawful due to the martial law that was declared when the war erupted in late September.
Armenia’s National Security Service also brought in the leaders of the main parties behind Wednesday’s protest.
Saghatelyan, along with the political editor of Yerkir Media television channel, Gegham Manukyan were taken into custody by Armenia’s National Security Service.
Gagik Tsaruktan, the leader of the opposition Prosperous Party of Armenia, former president Serzh Sarkisian who leads the Republican Party of Armenia and Artur Vanetsyan of the newly-formed Homeland party were all also taken to the NSS.