Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan detained

Detention in Yerevan and call for 'velvet revolution' come hours after televised clash between Pashinyan and the PM.

    Armenia's opposition leader has been detained by police at a protest in the country's capital, Yerevan.

    Nikol Pashinyan and two other opposition politicians "were detained as they were committing socially dangerous acts", the prosecutor general's office said in a statement on Sunday.

    Their whereabouts have so far been unknown.

    Pashinyan's detention came just hours after a televised clash with Serzh Sargsyan, Armenia's prime minister.

    Sargsyan walked out of a meeting where Pashinyan told him in front of the cameras that he came "to discuss your resignation".

    "This is not a dialogue; this is blackmail, I only can advise you to return to a legal framework ... otherwise, you will bear the responsibility," Sargsyan replied.

    To which Pashinyan responded: "You don't understand the situation in Armenia. The power is now in people's hands."

    Before walking out of the meeting room, Sargsyan said: "A party that scored eight percent in [parliamentary] elections can't speak on behalf of the people."

    Thousands have taken to Yerevan's streets, calling for Sargsyan's resignation [Getty Images]

    After the meeting, Pashinyan encouraged his supporters to launch a "velvet revolution" to remove Sargsyan from power.

    The protest movement, which has seen thousands of people take to the streets since April 13, is largely comprised of a network of self-organising opposition supporters built by Pashinyan.

    Sargsyan was appointed prime minister this month after serving 10 years as the country's president.

    Protesters have called on him to step down, citing corruption and fears of oligarchic, authoritarian rule.

    Sargsyan was about to complete his second and final term before Armenia's semi-presidential government was changed to a parliamentary system, giving greater powers to the position of the prime minister, which does not face term limits.

    Sargsyan had promised not to assume the role of prime minister, but his majority in parliament appointed him earlier this month.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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