Rallies Resume in Yerevan

Rallies Resume in YerevanRallies Resume in Yerevan

Armenian protest leader Nikol Pashinyan has launched a fresh demonstration on the streets of Yerevan, leading thousands of supporters on a march after negotiations he was to hold with the ruling Republican Party (HHK) were canceled.

Police were deployed in the center of the Armenian capital shortly after the protest began on Wednesday, casting new uncertainly over the country’s political future two days after longtime leader Serzh Sargsyan stepped down following 11 days of demonstrations, RFE/RL reported.  

Convoys of police vehicles led by Interior Ministry armored personnel carriers pulled trailers of razor wire to different points in the city center. They were closely followed by scores of uniformed riot police who ran to strategic positions, where they assembled with riot shields, and dozens of police buses often used to transport detainees were parked near the security checkpoints.

Pashinyan accused the Republican Party of seeking to retain power following the surprise resignation of Sargsyan, who was president from 2008 until early April and became prime minister on April 17.

“The Republican Party is thinking about taking advantage of Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation and wants to keep power,” Pashinyan said in a video appeal posted on Facebook on April 24. “We can’t agree to the appointment of this party’s representative as prime minister, and we can’t allow this corrupt system to continue to exist,” he said, urging supporters “to come to the square and finish the velvet revolution.”

Meanwhile, the Prosperous Armenia Party led by wealthy businessman Gagik Tsarukian—whose bloc has the second-largest faction in parliament—called on its members to “be with the people” in the streets.

The Heritage party, which has no parliament seats but whose leader, Raffi Hovannisian, came in second in the 2013 presidential election, according to official results, did the same.

Pashinyan’s renewed protests came after negotiations with acting Prime Minister Karen Karapetian aimed at defusing tensions, originally scheduled for April 25, were called off, with Karapetian saying he rejected preconditions laid down by Pashinyan.


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