Thousands of opposition supporters blockaded the Armenian parliament building on Tuesday to press a demand for the country”s prime minister to step down.
Nikol Pashinyan has rejected the opposition’s pressure to resign over a November peace deal that ended six weeks of fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s army chief has officially been relieved of his duties over an alleged coup attempt.
Political tensions have been escalating since military officers wrote a letter asking the Prime Minister to step down two weeks ago. Pashinian refused and called the army letter “an attempted coup,” and ordered to removal of Chief of General Staff Onik Gasparyan from office. But his dismissal needed the approval of President Sarkissian which he refused to give.
Pashinian has faced mounting protests since November’s Russian-brokered peace deal that ended six weeks of fierce fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region when Armenian forces suffered territorial and battlefield losses to Azerbaijan’s Turkish-backed military.
Pashinyan, a 45-year-old former journalist who came to power after leading large street protests in 2018 that ousted his predecessor, has defended the peace deal as the only way to prevent the Azerbaijani army from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeepers to monitor the peace deal.