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Armenian protesters block central streets of Yerevan

Anti-government demonstrations have not subsided on the streets of Yerevan for the third day. The people are protesting against the government’s actions to resolve the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

On Wednesday, citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh agreed to lay down their arms and disband their armed forces following large-scale military actions by the Azerbaijani army.

This event caused mass anti-government rallies in Yerevan. The opposition accused Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of making too many concessions to Baku and demanded his resignation.

Opposition leaders have announced plans to initiate Pashinyan’s resignation in parliament. On Friday, the streets of the Armenian capital were blocked by small groups of demonstrators. Their aim was to prevent Pashinyan’s cabinet meeting scheduled for later in the day.

One of the organisers of the rally, opposition politician Andranik Tevanyan, was detained by police. The protesters also demanded that the government take care of the ethnic Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and help them leave.

On Friday, Pashinyan issued a statement on preparations to accommodate some 40,000 refugees, but said his main goal was “to make sure our compatriots have the possibility to live in their homes without fear, in safety”. He said:

“There is a hope that the humanitarian situation could improve. The situation is changing rapidly.”

Azerbaijan’s state news agency Azertag reported that Baku has sent 40 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the region and that President Ilham Aliyev has promised to guarantee the rights of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Dozens of protesters were detained outside Pashinyan’s office on Wednesday and Thursday. They tried to enter the building and threw bottles and stones at the police. Police were forced to use stun grenades and warned that they would use “special measures” if the clashes continued.

Pashinyan said on Thursday that his government “will be acting firmly but in line with law” against the protesters. He said in a televised address:

“My appeal, the government’s appeal remains the same: remain calm and don’t cross the limits of law in this emotional and difficult time.”

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