World

Protests in Yerevan: dozens of detainees

Protests in Yerevan: dozens of detainees

According to several local media reports, riot police used batons and stun grenades against the crowd when demonstrators tried to break the police cordon blocking the way to the parliament building.

Armenia's parliament appointed ex-President Serzh Sargsyan as the country's prime minister on Tuesday as mass protests against his continued rule paralyzed the capital Yerevan.

Several thousand people blocked traffic on Tuesday morning in the capital of this former Soviet nation, camping out on the streets to protest a change of government that they see as a fig leaf by the ex-president to stay in power.

But many Armenians see the system change as a scheme created to allow Sargsyan - who has become increasingly unpopular during his time in office - to maintain his grip on power.

Forty-six people have been hospitalized following clashes between people protesting against the nomination of Serzh Sargsyan for Armenian prime minister and police in downtown Yerevan. The protesters also disrupted metro operations and stormed university campuses.

When Armenian lawmaker Nikol Pashinian received a police notice warning that the protests he was leading were unlawful, few were surprised when he ripped it up on the spot without even bothering to read it.

In 2017, Pashinian set up his own party and was elected to parliament as head of the Yelk election bloc.

Parliamentary vice-speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, who is the ruling party's spokesman, dismissed the protests as "the opposition's artificial and fake agenda".

"We must not allow Armenia's transformation into an autocratic country where the same man remains in power for an indefinite time", 23-year-old student Karen Mirzoyan, told AFP at the rally. The rallies began on Friday when more than 4,000 people took part.

The election of Mr Sargsyan to the presidency in 2008 was met with demonstrations, with protesters alleging vote rigging.

Sarkisian was first elected in 2008 in the South Caucasus country of about 3 million people and served two terms, stepping down when the new president, Armen Sarkisian - no relation to Serzh - was inaugurated on April 9.


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