Anti-government protests mount in Armenia

Anti-government protests mount in Armenia
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (left) at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (right). / bne IntelliNews
By Ani Avetisyan May 13, 2024

Anti-government protests are mounting in Armenia, with Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan of the country's Tavush diocese emerging at the head of the movement demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. More than 20,000 people gathered in Yerevan for the 9 May protest, with slightly smaller numbers at subsequent protests. 

The protesters clashed with local police on May 11, with over 50 being detained while trying to block the Armenian capital Yerevan's streets. 

"We live at a time of stolen joy and infamy, when a wonderful section of our homeland is lost, and all the borders of our country are in danger”, Galstanyan said from the stage in Yerevan.

The protests, which began as a five-day march from Kirants in the northern Tavush region to Yerevan, have now entered their second week, with Galstanyan vowing to continue the fight until Pashinyan steps down. "We need a new government, a government of the people, a caring, suffering government, a government of reconciliation," he stated.


The protests are fuelled by public discontent over Pashinian's decision to make unilateral concessions of territory to Azerbaijan in a border delimitation deal. 

Galstanyan's rhetoric portrays Pashinyan as a leader who has betrayed the Armenian people, leading the country into ruin and incapable of addressing critical challenges. 

The opposition, represented by factions in parliament, has pledged to support a vote of no confidence in the government. However, they lack sufficient numbers to initiate such a vote, as they have once already failed an impeachment process. 

The constitution mandates that any faction proposing a vote of no confidence must nominate a candidate for prime minister simultaneously. Galstanyan first said that the movement did not have a candidate for the position, but later said that he would not mind taking the post if the “public demands”. Armenian law, however, does not allow the holders of dual citizenship to be nominated for high-ranking political positions, and Galstanyan holds citizenships from Armenia and Canada. 

The standoff intensified as Pashinyan's allies accused Galstanyan of orchestrating a coup, and being backed by the Kremlin. Pashinyan has earlier accused the protesters of risking provoking a war with Azerbaijan. 

Pashinyan said that the decision to agree on the unilateral handover of the Azerbaijani villages without Baku returning the Armenian territories was to avoid a full-scale war. The deal itself came amid the increasing tensions along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.