Police make fresh calls as opposition protests continue in Yerevan

Saturday, 21 Apr, 2018

Police in the Armenian capital Yerevan detained dozens of anti-government demonstrators yesterday, the seventh day of large-scale protests against ex-president Serzh Sargsyan's election as prime minister.

As of 15:30 on April 20, the Armenian police detained 183 opposition activists participating in rallies in Yerevan, APA reports citing Armenian media.

On April 17, Nikol Pashinyan announced the beginning of a velvet revolution, which will rid the country of Serzh Sargsyan's regime, and protesters blockaded buildings of government establishments.

Sarksyan's appointment has drawn criticism from political opponents, who accuse him of engineering a power grab.

The number of demonstrators had somewhat dwindled over the past few days, down from roughly 40,000 who took to the streets Tuesday when Sarkisian was elected by parliament.

In the square there were about a hundred protesters, the streets in the city opened, the police cordoned off the area.

At the same time, the Police say they are ready to support the conduct of a peaceful protest at locations where the rights and freedoms of others will not be restricted.

The protests began in Armenia last week following the nomination of former President Serzh Sargsyan to serve as the new prime minister.

Authorities said 46 people, including six police and opposition leader Pashinyan, sought medical help.

"As of now 233 people were delivered to police departments", Dzhanoyan said.

Serzh Sarkisian's junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) factions, on April 19 urged Armenia's leading political groups to try to "jointly find solutions" to end stalemate.

The anti-government protests in Armenia have entered the eighth day.

One should not underestimate the challenges Armenia's police are facing in maintaining law and order, but the ongoing protests are no justification to arbitrarily detain people.

Opponents claim the change allows Sargsyan to continue as the country's leader even though he had to step down from the presidency because of term limits.

For the past week, opposition supporters have held mass rallies to denounce Sarkisian's efforts to remain in power as prime minister after a decade serving as president.

The 63-year-old also held the office of prime minister from 2007 to 2008.

Armenia, a country of 3 million people in the Southern Caucasus, seceded in 1991 from the then Soviet Union but still relies on Russian Federation for aid and investment.