Escalation in Armenia: protesters storm government buildings

Status: 01.03.2021 6:13 p.m.

The power struggle in Armenia has escalated further: opponents of Prime Minister Pashinyan stormed a government building, but left it after a protest. The head of government was ready to hold new elections.

In Armenia, a small group of demonstrators broke into a government building. They called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, reported the Russian news agency RIA. After a brief protest, they left the building without incident, as a reporter for the AFP news agency from the capital Yerevan reported. The police did not intervene.

Pashinyan ready for new elections

In the evening supporters and opponents of Pashinyan held rallies in Yerevan. Pashinyan declared himself ready to hold new elections in front of his supporters: “Let’s vote and see whose resignation the people are demanding,” said. At the same time, he admitted mistakes during the armed conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan last year. But only the people can decide “who stays in power”. He is ready to give the opposition parties a second chance to defeat him in an election.

Pashinyan has been criticized for weeks because of the ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan that was agreed in November. The agreement between the hostile neighboring states ended several weeks of heavy fighting with more than 6,000 dead in the Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh, but resulted in significant territorial losses for Armenia: Azerbaijan received control over large parts of the region and surrounding areas for more than 25 years had long been controlled by Armenians. Pashinyan has described the peace agreement as necessary.

Coup allegations against army chief

An open power struggle broke out between the government and the military on Thursday after Pashinyan accused the armed forces of attempting a coup. President Armen Sarkisyan called on both sides to show restraint. Political struggle must not “exceed the limits of the law,” demanded the head of state. It should not lead to “shocks and instability”.

Prime Minister Pashinyan fears a military coup.

Image: via REUTERS

On Saturday, Sarkisjan refused Pashinyan’s request to dismiss the army chief of staff, Onik Gasparjan. The political crisis could not be resolved “through frequent personnel changes,” it said.

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