UARU
Protests Against Armenia’s New PM Escalate
17 April, 2018

Thousands of Armenia's opposition supporters have come out in protest against the ruling party's decision to install former president Serzh Sargsyan as the country's Prime Minister. The Armenian parliament officially voted Sargsyan in as PM today, April 17.  

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The protests first broke out on April 13 and have escalated since then, with skirmishes breaking out between demonstrators and riot police stationed at the scene.

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Protesters have blocked major roads in the city center of Yerevan, the country’s capital. They have also obstructed entry to the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office buildings.

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In turn, law enforcement have installed razor wires to deter the protesters’ advances and cordoned off the parliament building where the successful vote to appoint Sargsyan as PM took place today.  

According to RFE/RL, the Armenian police have reported 59 arrests in relation to the protests. They have been charged with administrative offenses.

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On April 16, it was also reported that 46 people, including six police officers, had received medical assistance for injuries sustained during the demonstrations. Opposition leader and protest organizer Nikol Pashinian also received treatment in hospital for an eye injury and cuts.

Pashinian addressed his supporters earlier today in Yeravan’s France Square, stating that today was the start of an Armenian “Velvet Revolution.”

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Sargsyan was first elected president in 2008 and held the position for ten years, having only left the position a few days ago.

Back in 2015, during Sargsyan’s presidency, a change to the Armenian constitution came into force following a referendum, which converted the country’s status as a presidential republic to a parliamentary system. This transfers the majority of the power to the PM, leaving the presidency as more of a ceremonial role.

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Sargsyan had previously stated that he would not be running for the country’s new most powerful position. Therefore, Armenian opposition are describing Sargsyan’s appointment as PM as a blatant “power grab.”

/By Sofia Fedeczko