Violent clashes in the center of Yerevan - what happened and why? Photo report
Violent clashes with police in Yerevan’s central France Square on May 30 marked a month of continuous opposition protests in Armenia with two main demands:
- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan must resign
- The unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic must not become part of Azerbaijan.
The opposition movement began on May 1, after Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that “the international community expects Armenia to lower the bar on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh”. This was regarded as the consent of the Armenian authorities to the status of NK within Azerbaijan.
The leaders of the protest are the opposition Armenia and I Have the Honor parliamentary factions, led by the ex-presidents of Armenia Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan. Many experts believe that these politicians have ties with Moscow.
Serzh Sargsyan lost power in 2018 as a result of the Velvet Revolution, led by the current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
The opposition demands the convocation of an extraordinary meeting of the National Assembly on June 3 and the adoption of the following decisions:
- An obligatory condition for the demarcation of the border with Azerbaijan should be the return of prisoners of war and the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the territory of Armenia.
- In the process of demarcation, the violation of the territorial integrity of Armenia must be excluded.
- In the intensified process of Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, any agreement that would cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915, already recognized as such not only in Armenia but also by many countries of the world, should be excluded.
However, the ruling Civil Contract faction stated that it would not participate in this meeting. The faction’s secretary Artur Hovhannisyan stated: “Obviously, the opposition is once again trying to use the Karabakh issue exclusively for domestic political purposes”.
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Events of May 30
On May 30, the opposition marched to the third government building, intending to get a direct answer from the ministers on whether they support the idea of Nagorno-Karabakh becoming a part of Azerbaijan.
The police did not allow protesters to enter government buildings, which led to violent clashes. More than 100 people have been detained, four people were hospitalized with various injuries, including two police officers. Their lives are reportedly not in danger.
One of the leaders of the Resistance movement, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, said that the opposition will continue to demand an answer to this “very clear, direct question” from all officials. Supporters of the movement intend to march to various government agencies in the coming days.
“Armenia will support the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination. Nagorno-Karabakh will never be a part of Azerbaijan. There should be a reliable land connection between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh will not be an enclave”, Saghatelyan said.
According to him, “these are red lines that Armenia will not cross.”