The opposition has launched a civil disobedience campaign over the prime minister's Nagorno-Karabakh remarks.
More than 200 protesters have been arrested in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Monday during mass protests sparked by recent remarks by the country's prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, about the longstanding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The weekend saw thousands of opposition supporters gather in central Yerevan as part of a campaign to oust Pashinyan. They believe that the prime minister's statements show a willingness to compromise on the Karabakh issue and even give the disputed territory away to Azerbaijan, as a reason for discontent. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war over control of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, which has seen periodic flare-ups since, the most recent being this past March.
As of 14: 00, 244 citizens who did not comply with the lawful demands of the police were taken to different police stations, a police spokeswoman told the Tass news agency.
On Monday morning, the groups of activists who were participating in a civil disobedience campaign started blocking dozens of streets in the center of Yerevan, prompting the police to use force to restore order.
The protesters condemned the actions of law enforcement and stressed that they would continue their campaign.
There are many cases of violence against parliament deputies. All this is secondary. One of the opposition leaders, Parliament Vice President, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, is quoted as saying that people have risen up and the objectives set by us are methodically achieved.
On Sunday, during the thousands-strong rally, Saghatelyan told reporters that any political status of Karabakh within Azerbaijan is unacceptable and that Pashinyan has betrayed people's trust and must go. The unrest came in response to a speech by the prime minister to Parliament in which he said: Today the international community tells us again to lower your benchmark on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and to ensure greater international consolidation around Armenia and Artsakh Otherwise, according to the prime minister, the international community will ask Armenia not to rely on it as it will be unable to help.
Following widespread criticism, the prime minister's political allies accused the opposition of using the remarks as a pretext for political games, insisting that Pashinyan does not plan to give away Nagorno-Karabakh.
In early April, after a meeting between Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels, Armenia said it had reached an agreement with Baku to set up a commission on border delimitation. It added that the sides had agreed to start preparations for final peace talks.
In 2020, Yerevan and Baku fought a 44 day long war during which Azerbaijan captured parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that has been controlled by Armenians since the early 1990s, a Moscow-brokered ceasefire saw Russian peacekeepers deployed to the region.
The situation on the ground has remained tense, with both sides accusing each other of provoking hostilities.