Clashes broke out in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, as protester attempted to storm the parliament building. The protest erupted after former President Serzh Sargsyan was sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday.
The scuffles were short-lived, as the police were able to repel the offensive and push the demonstrators back. The law enforcers have urged the crowd to disperse, warning that “force and special means” will be employed if the “illegal” action continues.
Six police officers and 40 rioters were injured in clashes and received medical attention, the Health Ministry said. Earlier, representatives from the Nairi Medical Center in Yerevan told TASS that “one of the officers is in critical condition, he’s undergoing surgery. The other victims suffered light wounds and will be released from hospital later on the day.”
Protest leader Nikol Pashinyan was also reportedly among the injured and suffered lacerate wounds after falling on the barbed wire. He received first aid from the medics and returned to the demonstrators.
Earlier on Monday, Pashinyan announced “an action of civil disobedience,” urging all those who oppose Sargsyan as prime minister to “get together at Bagramyn Avenue – at the parliamentary building.” The Civil Contract party PM also called upon his supporters to block streets and disrupt public transportation.
His calls were answered by several thousand people who flocked to the parliament building. The demonstrators carried Armenian national flags, burnt flares and chanted anti-government slogans. According to the protest leader, “similar actions take place in Gyumri, where activists have blockaded several central streets.”
On Sunday, Pashinyan and his supporters made their way into Armenia’s Public Radio headquarters and demanded airtime. However, the rogue MP was unable to address the country, as the power supply to the building was cut off due to what the Public Radio called “reasons unrelated.”
A constitutional referendum in 2015 saw Armenia switch to a parliamentary system, reducing the position of president to an essentially ceremonial role. Serzh Sargsyan, who held the office for nearly a decade, had promised he wouldn’t seek the key job of prime minister. However, the ruling Republican Party of Armenia has nominated Sargsyan for the PM, with the opposition saying the former president has broken his vow in order to secure his grip on power.
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