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Mass arrests in Armenia as opposition protests spread

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Police in Armenia arrested hundreds of protesters on Wednesday as opposition supporters sought to spread their month-long anti-government demonstrations throughout Yerevan.

Police detained nearly 300 opposition supporters who attempted to block dozens of streets in the capital, an AFP journalist witnessed.

“As of 11:00 am (0700 GMT), 277 people were briefly detained,” Armenia’s police department said in a statement.

Yerevan has been gripped by anti-government protests since mid-April, with opposition parties demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation over his handling of a territorial dispute with Azerbaijan.

Opposition parties have failed to gain momentum to unseat Pashinyan, while his government has struggled to rein in the wave of protests.

Protesters also paralysed traffic in Yerevan’s subway, a spokesman for the Yerevan Metro said on Facebook.

The arch-foe Caucasus neighbours fought two wars — in autumn 2020 and in the 1990s — over the Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan.

Opposition parties have accused Pashinyan of planning to cede to Baku parts of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region that remain under Armenian control, since the 2020 war.

Six weeks of fighting have claimed more than 6,500 lives and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement.

Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades, and Russia deployed some 2,000 peacekeepers to oversee the truce.

The pact was seen in Armenia as a national humiliation and sparked weeks of anti-government protests, leading Pashinyan to call snap parliamentary polls which his party, Civil Contract, won last September.

Ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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