Armenian Citizens Protest at Capital, Demand PM Resign

Miami Downtown, FL, USA - MAY 31, 2020: White and black fist near. White and black people protest against racism together

Protesters descended on the capital of Armenia in late May to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pshinyan and the dissolution of his government.

Protesters clashed with police in the capital city of Yerevan and other cities throughout the country as part of demonstrations that began last month after the government returned four villages along the border to Azerbaijan.

Police in Yerevan arrested 196 demonstrators during the May 27 protest that blocked the main streets of the capital.

The ongoing demonstrations have been orchestrated by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan from the northeastern Tavush Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church where the villages returned to Azerbaijan are located.

While the turnover of the four villages sparked the protests, the demonstrations have broadened to include a variety of complaints against Pashinyan and his government.

The leaders of Archbishop Galstanyan’s “Tavush for the Homeland” group are calling for the archbishop to become the next prime minister.

The Armenian government’s decision to hand over the four Tavush villages to Azerbaijan came after a September military campaign in the Karabakh region in which the Azerbaijan military forced ethnic Armenians to capitulate.

Once Karabakh was under the control of Azerbaijan, nearly all of the roughly 120,000 ethnic Armenians fled the region.

Ethnic Armenian separatists supported by the Armenian military gained control of the Karabakh region in 1994 following a six-year war. Azerbaijan retook some of the territory in 2020 after fighting in the region ended the armistice established by the Russian peacekeeping forces that began withdrawing from the region this year.

Prime Minister Pashinyan said the country needed to establish a defined border with Azerbaijan quickly if it wanted to avoid another round of hostilities.

The protests in Yerevan were also fueled by concerns over the severe flooding that hit Tavush in late May killing at least four people and displacing another 429.