Opposition lawmaker beaten at anti-government protests in Armenia

Anti-government protests in Yerevan, Armenia. September 20, 2023 (PHOTO: CivilNet / Ani Balayan)

Gegham Manukyan, a well-known lawmaker from the opposition Armenia Alliance bloc, says he was beaten by a police officer at an anti-government protest earlier this week in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.

“Two days ago, during the protests, a conspiratorial, Nikol-supporting police officer tried to hit me while he was standing behind his friends,” Manukyan said in a Facebook video Thursday with bandages stretched across his nose. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll return to the ranks in a couple of days.”

Since Tuesday, downtown Yerevan has been rocked by nightly demonstrations, with thousands of protesters calling on Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign over his government’s refusal to intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan launched strikes on the region.

After just 24 hours, the Nagorno-Karabakh government signed on to a Russian-brokered ceasefire Wednesday that in effect amounted to a surrender, agreeing to dissolve its armed forces and withdraw all weaponry from the region.

At least 200 people in Nagorno-Karabakh have been killed and 400 wounded, marking the worst outbreak of hostilities since the 2020 war. Those figures include both civilian and military casualties and are likely to rise further. More than 7,000 civilians have been evacuated or fled from villages reportedly seized by Azerbaijani troops.

At least 18 protesters and 16 police officers have been injured in clashes during the protests in Yerevan, according to Armenia’s Health Ministry. CivilNet’s team on the ground reported law enforcement used stun grenades on the demonstrators in at least one instance.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee said Thursday at least 28 people had been detained on charges of “calling for, organizing, and participating in mass riots.”