On Tuesday, months-long calls for the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan intensified again, as thousands of demonstrators staged a third week-long demonstration demanding that he end his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute with Azerbaijan.
“Police cordons were deployed near Republic Square in the capital Yerevan to guard government buildings, with officers accompanying Pashinyan when he walked from one building to another as demonstrators shouted “traitor! ”.
The day before, demonstrators marched to Yerevan Square in France and closed many neighboring streets, briefly paralyzing the area’s traffic.
The demonstrations followed last November’s protests, which developed after Pashinyan signed a Russian-brokered peace agreement after six weeks of violence that claimed thousands of lives and ceded territories to Azerbaijan in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.
The mountainous area is internationally recognized as the territory of Azerbaijan, but has been under the jurisdiction of ethnic Armenian forces and self-appointed Armenian officials, assisted by Armenia, since the 1994 cessation of the previous war between the rivals.
The demonstrations were inactive for a spell in the deep winter of Armenia, but first revived on Saturday, when thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yerevan.
“Actions of [civil] disobedience need to continue for a long time, the city should be paralysed every once in a while,” said Ayk Mamidzhanyan of the Republican Party of Armenia.
Pashinyan has declined to step down amid the scrutiny. As a painful but necessary move, he defended the peace agreement that prevented Azerbaijan from overrunning the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Pashinyan raised the possibility of early parliamentary elections this year in December, in an apparent concession to the demonstrators. Earlier this month, however, Pashinyan’s My Move parliamentary coalition seemed to backtrack on that plan.