Yerevan: Thousands of protesters gathered in the Armenian capital on Saturday to once again call on Prime Minister Nicole Pasinyan to resign and reach a disputed peace agreement with Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan announced an agreement with Moscow on November 9 to end the six-week war in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing thousands.
Under the deal, Armenia agreed to cede three districts to Baku in addition four others Azerbaijani forces had won back during the fighting that had been controlled by Armenian separatists since the 1990s.
The decision sparked fury in Armenia, where demonstrators stormed and ransacked government buildings and have since staged near daily demonstrations in Yerevan, demanding that Pashinyan step down.
According to an AFP source, although the Prime Minister has weathered the storm so far, Saturday was the biggest rally to date. About 10,000 protesters gathered in Liberty Square in the center of Yerevan.
The protesters chanted “Nikol the traitor” and “Armenia without Nikol” and waved the flags of Armenia and Karabakh.
“Nikol is a political corpse. I am not planning on following a corpse into the grave,” Manya Khachatryan, 49, told AFP.
“Because of him our homeland, our people have received such wounds that it will take several generations to heal them,” she said.
Pasinyan, whose wife and son were on the front lines during the conflict, said that the peace agreement was the only option for Armenia and ensured the survival of Karabakh.
Although the Armenian enclave has lost a large area of its territory, it will be guaranteed by nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers for its future deployment to fulfill its five-year sustainable mission.
On Wednesday Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed Pashinyan’s “courage” in agreeing to the peace deal, calling the decision “necessary” but “painful”.
The Armenian authorities last month said they had thwarted a plot to assassinate the prime minister.
Pashinyan has said he has no plans to resign and in a televised address on Saturday said that his government’s priority is returning Armenia’s prisoners of war and the bodies of those who died in the fighting.