Hundreds More Arrested as Anti-Government Protests Continue In Armenia

By Asbarez | Thursday, 05 May 2022

YEREVAN (—Major anti-government protests continued in Armenia for the third consecutive day on Tuesday, with opposition leaders vowing that there will be no letup in their efforts to oust Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Groups of opposition activists again briefly blocked streets across Yerevan in the morning and thousands of other people rallied in the evening in the city’s France Square where opposition forces set up a tent camp on Sunday. Protests also erupted in other parts of the country.

One of the opposition leaders, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, said that the campaign is gaining momentum. “Our struggle is unstoppable,” he said at the evening rally.

Police arrested hundreds more protesters on May 3 during opposition protests

As was the case on Monday, riot police were quick to forcibly end the street blockades in the Armenian capital, detaining more than 200 protesters in the process.

As security forces clashed with protesters disrupting traffic, a larger number of other demonstrators led by several opposition lawmakers marched through the city center to try to drum up greater support for their campaign. They entered one of the buildings of Yerevan State University to urge more students to boycott classes and demand Pashinyan’s resignation.

“We have one goal: to stop this spate of defeats so that our country doesn’t fall apart,” said Artur Vanetsyan, an opposition leader who headed Armenia’s National Security Service from 2018-2019.

The country’s two main opposition alliances, which organized the protests, accuse Pashinyan of planning to let Azerbaijan take full control over Nagorno-Karabakh. Pashinyan’s political allies deny this.
Some of the citizens who stood by and watched the morning protests were not convinced by the opposition push for regime change.

“In democratic countries governments are formed through elections. Period,” one man told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

“They didn’t get [a majority of] votes ten months ago. What do they want now?” he said, referring to snap parliamentary elections won by the ruling Civil Contract party.

“I’m not a big fan of Mr. Pashinyan, but these guys must specify their first, second and third steps [after regime change,]” said another Yerevan resident.

The opposition took its campaign to other parts of the country on Tuesday. The Armenian police reported 14 arrests there.

News reports said that protesters blocked several regional highways. An RFE/RL reporter witnessed one such blockage outside Armenia’s third largest city of Vanadzor.

Despite a lack of police intervention, the protesters reopened the Vanadzor-Yerevan highway to traffic shortly afterwards. As one of them explained: “We would have kept it blocked for five hours if we had wanted to, but we don’t need that because it’s Vanadzor residents who suffer from such inconvenience.”

Other opposition supporters marched through Vanadzor’s central avenue to voice support for the opposition demands. They repeatedly jostled with police officers escorting the crowd.