Demonstrations are continuing in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan where protesters are demanding that former President Serzh Sargsyan give up political power and not seek the post of Prime Minister.
On April 17, Armenia’s National Assembly will convene a special session, at which time the Members of Parliament will elect the country’s new Prime Minister. Serzh Sargsyan’s ruling Republican Party and the Dashnaktsutyun Party hold the majority of seats in parliament and are expected to vote for Sargsyan.
In recent days, opposition leader and Member of Parliament (MP) Nikol Pashinyan has urged citizens to partake in acts of civil disobedience and paralyze the capital in an attempt to deter Sargsyan’s election.
April 16 developments
– After a day of protests on April 15, hundreds of protesters remained in “France Square” through the night until the early hours of April 16. Traffic has been closed off in the area for the last two days.
– Early in the morning on April 16, citizens began acts of civil disobedience. MP Pashinyan and activists closed off nearly all major streets in the center of Yerevan.
– Demonstrators temporarily shut down traffic on some bridges, including the Victory Bridge which leads to Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport.
– Protesters attempted to bring the Yerevan subway to a halt. The city municipality issued a statement announcing that the subway will not make its regular stop at Baghramyan Station, which is located on an avenue that has become the centerpoint of protests. Baghramyan Station is a short walk away from the building of the National Assembly. Later in the day, all subway lanes were halted.
– After closing off the major streets in the early hours of the morning, thousands of people joined Pashinyan for a rally around the capital. Pashinyan and activists entered the Armenian State Pedagogical University and urged students to hold walkouts.
– In addition to walk outs, university students began their own rally, chanting “Reject Serzh”.
– Throughout the day, skirmishes between protesters and police were reported in various locations.
– Following a 2:30 pm demonstration in “France Square”, Pashinyan headed to Baghramyan Avenue towards the National Assembly, stating that as Member of Parliament he is attempting to enter his workplace.
– Police had barricaded the beginning section of Baghramyan Avenue with barbed wire. Pashinyan demanded that police allow him to go to his workplace at the National Assembly and meet with the citizens who are following him.
– After clashes with police and an attempt to pass through barbed wire, Pashinyan injured his face and hands and was transferred to a hospital. Few other activists also received injuries.
– Police used special stun grenades to disperse protesters attempting to approach the National Assembly.
– Armenia’s Ministry of Health reported that 46 people have sought medical care in Yerevan’s hospitals.
– Speaking with reporters inside the hospital, Pashinyan said that the current environment makes it feel as though a breakthrough has taken place. “And we will not allow Serzh Sargsyan to become Prime Minister,” he continued.
– Pashinyan joined the activists immediately after leaving the hospital where he was joined by Members of Parliament from the “Yelq” Alliance, an opposition faction that holds nine out of 105 seats in Armenia’s parliament. The members of the two parties that make up the “Yelq” alliance have refused to participate in Pashinyan’s movement, considering his goals unrealistic. Pashinyan said he was pleased to see his colleagues, although it is unclear if the parties are formally joining with the protesters.
– There are reports of emerging demonstrations in Armenia’s other major towns, including Gyumri and Vanadzor.
– Police have formally demanded that Pashinyan disperse the rallies.
– In the afternoon of April 16, Armenia’s ruling Republican Party and the Dashnaktsutyun Party (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) held a joint session and decided that they will nominate Serzh Sargsyan for the post of the country’s Prime Minister.
– Towards evening, a rally began in “France Square”, which was significantly larger than those held in previous days.
– Pashinyan announced that on April 17, activists will surround the National Assembly from all sides. He again encouraged people to shut down all central streets, as well as interstate roads.
In picture: Nikol Pashinyan holds press conference on the blocked Baghramyan avenue in the morning of April 16 (Photo: CivilNet).