Thousands of protesters blocked access to government buildings in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, today in the latest wave of protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nicole Pasinian.
Pressure on Pashinyan has escalated since he moved closer to normalizing relations with Azerbaijan, which defeated Armenia in a six-week war in 2020.
The unrest also coincides with Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is pushing its former Soviet neighbors to reassess their own security and relations with Moscow.
Protests have been going on in Armenia for weeks since Pasinyan said the international community wanted Yerevan to “lower the bar” on its claims in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Videos posted on YouTube show protesters, led by opposition leaders, waving Armenian flags and shouting anti-government slogans and police guarding buildings.
“By this we show that Nicole (Pasinian) has no power in the country,” the vice-president of the Armenian National Assembly, Ishan Sagatelyan, told the Russian news agency TASS.
Pasinyan’s comments on Nagorno-Karabakh came as Baku said it was ready for peace talks soon, but that Yerevan should renounce any territorial claims against its country.
The Nagorno-Karabakh enclave is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but was inhabited and completely controlled by Armenians until Armenian forces lost to Azerbaijan in a six-week war in 2020.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, another former Soviet country, Armenia, has begun to rethink its relations with its neighbors to reduce the external threats it could face.
“The war has prompted all of Moscow’s partners to reconsider their relationship,” said Lawrence Bruce, a Russia-Eurasia Partner at Chatham House in London.
Armenia is currently a close ally of Russia, which has a military base in the northwest of the country and has sent peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh as part of an agreement that ended the fighting in 2020.
Pasinyan insisted he would not sign any peace agreement with Azerbaijan without consulting the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.