Protesters in Armenia call for PM to step down

Thousands in Yerevan call for PM to quit after he signed a deal to end the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Demonstrators protested in the Armenian capital as anger mounted over PM Nikol Pashinyan's decision to cede swathes of disputed territory to Azerbaijan [Dmitri Lovetsky/AP]
Demonstrators protested in the Armenian capital as anger mounted over PM Nikol Pashinyan's decision to cede swathes of disputed territory to Azerbaijan [Dmitri Lovetsky/AP]

Thousands of Armenian protesters took to the street demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over a ceasefire that secured territorial advances for Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh after six weeks of conflict.

Several hundred marched on parliament in the capital Yerevan, chanting “Nikol is a traitor” as they felt betrayed after Pashinyan signed a deal to end the fighting. “This is a big failure and disaster,” Pashinyan said on Tuesday, adding that he was taking personal responsibility for the setbacks, but he rejected calls to step down.

The agreement ended military action and restored relative calm to the breakaway territory, internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated and, until recently, fully controlled by ethnic Armenians.

The deal provides for the deployment of 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops in the region.

To catch up on Tuesday’s developments, click here.

‘A traitor’

The main slogan of the protesters in Yerevan is that Pashinyan is “a traitor,” Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reported from the scene, saying that there were some sporadic scuffles in an otherwise largely peaceful demonstration.

“They say that Nikol Pashinyan did not have the right to sign the agreement without consulting with the people, they say that it’s not democracy and that he sold out their land,” she said.

At least 20 people were detained at the beginning of the rally and one of the largest opposition party said its leader was being questioned by the National Security, according to Abdel-Hamid.

Protesters came to the streets defying a martial law banning street gatherings.

At least 20 people were detained at the beginning of the protest [Artem Mikryukov/Reuters]

Opposition party enters parliament

The opposition party Prosperous Armenia has entered the parliament to discuss the resignation of Pashinyan. However, their power might be limited as they are the minority in parliament.

Russian peacekeepers deployed

Russian peacekeepers have deployed to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said the military.

The peacekeepers are now in control of the Lachin corridor, a key connection between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region, said the chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, Sergei Rudskoy.

He said 414 servicemen, eight helicopters and dozens of vehicles and equipment had earlier arrived in Armenia.

“Twenty-seven sorties have been made over the past 24 hours,” he told reporters.

Rudskoy said nearly all the servicemen on the peacekeeping mission had previous experience on humanitarian deployments in Syria.

In Pictures: Tensions simmer amid protests in Yerevan

Protesters hold an Armenian national flag during a protest against an agreement to halt fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, in Freedom Square in Yerevan, Armenia [Dmitri Lovetsky/AP]
A man walks past Armenian police officers as they guard a government building after protests against the country’s agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region [Karen Minasyan/AFP]
People argue with police during the protest in Freedom Square in Yerevan, Armenia [Dmitri Lovetsky/AP]
Protesters wave an Armenian national flag during Wednesday’s rally [Dmitri Lovetsky/AP]

Armenian protesters call for parliament to hold session

Crowds of Armenian protesters are heading towards Republic Square. They want politicians to hold a parliament session, to debate the peace deal.

As they march through the centre of Yerevan towards Republic Square, they are trying to enlist people in cafes and policemen to join them as they go.

Erdogan says Turkey, Russia sign deal on Karabakh ceasefire monitoring

Turkey and Russia signed an agreement establishing a joint centre to monitor the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday morning and the two countries will work together there, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan’s comments, in a speech to deputies from his ruling AK Party in parliament, came after Russian peacekeeping troops were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Former Armenia PM demands Pashinyan quits

Former Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan addressed the protesters in Yerevan, joining their calls demanding PM Pashinyan steps down.

Bagratyan led Armenia from February 1993 until November 1996, and is a former member of the Pan-Armenian National Movement political party.

Armenia protests grow, arrests made

Several thousand people have turned out in front of the opera house in downtown Yerevan, a significant place where meetings of the Nagorno-Karabakh independence movement of the 1980s took place.

Many wore face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, as they called for the government to step down.

“We started the Artsakh movement from here,” Gegham Manukyan, head of news agency of Yerkir Media TV, told crowds. “Nikol, traitor!” the crowds shouted back.

Police arrested several demonstrators at the rally. One woman, who did not want to be named, told Liz Cookman, our stringer in Yerevan, that her 76-year-old father was among those detained.

Officials guard government buildings in Yerevan amid protests

Our stringer in Yerevan, Liz Cookman, reports that officials are guarding government buildings following protests.

After the announcement of the peace deal, protesters managed to work their way into parliament, demanding PM Pashinyan’s resignation.

Officials guard government buildings as protests gather strength in Yerevan, Armenia on November 11, 2020 [Liz Cookman/Al Jazeera]

Armenian police arrest protesters

Armenian police arrested demonstrators in the capital Yerevan on Wednesday as anger mounted over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to sign a controversial peace deal with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said more than 100 protesters had gathered in central Yerevan shouting “Nikol the traitor”, adding that police had detained demonstrators including high-profile opposition figure Gagik Tsarukyan.

Armenian PM: There was a probability of losing Stepanakert without a deal

“If the fighting continued, there was a very high probability that Stepanakert, Martuni, Askeran would have fallen. Subsequently, thousands of our soldiers could be surrounded, that is, a collapse would have happened.

“We had to sign that agreement,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Wednesday during a live broadcast on his Facebook page.

This fame grab taken from a video published on Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian FaceBook official account as he address the nation in unknowing location in Armenia [PM official Facebook account via AP]

Azerbaijan leader meets Turkish delegation

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev met Turkey’s foreign and defence ministers in Baku to discuss the agreement to halt the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev stressed the importance of the timely establishment of a peacekeeping hub involving Russian and Turkish peacekeepers.

“We have always wanted Turkey and Russia to play an equal role in the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and today we have achieved this,” he said.

Hello, and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Liz Cookman in Yerevan, Elizabeth Melimopoulos in Doha, Anealla Safdar in London and Virginia Pietromarchi in Rome bring you updates.

Source : Al Jazeera and News agencies

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