Thousands of Armenian protesters rally after violent clashes with police

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Thousands of Armenians staged a new rally Thursday against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, a day after clashes between anti-government protesters and police left more than 100 injured.

Protests have gripped Yerevan since April, when authorities agreed to hand back to its rival Azerbaijan territory that Armenia had controlled since the 1990s.

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Around 4,000 people gathered outside the parliament building in Yerevan for a rally led by the archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, an AFP reporter saw.

“The authorities are guilty of bringing this country to disaster,” Galstanyan told the crowd.

“We have shown yesterday that we have no fear and that our movement will persist,” he added, vowing to force Pashinyan to resign.

Protest leader Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan addresses demonstrators during a rally demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's resignation over land concessions to Azerbaijan, in Yerevan on June 13, 2024. (AFP)
Protest leader Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan addresses demonstrators during a rally demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's resignation over land concessions to Azerbaijan, in Yerevan on June 13, 2024. (AFP)

On Wednesday, 101 people were injured after police fired stun grenades during an anti-government rally outside parliament, Armenia’s health ministry said.

Officers moved in after some of the protesters attempted to break through a police cordon, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The interior ministry reported that 98 protesters were detained for disobeying police orders, adding that six officers were among the injured.

Galstanyan has temporarily stepped down from his religious post to run for prime minister, despite not being eligible to hold office because of his dual citizenship -- Armenian and Canadian.

With opposition parties lacking enough seats to launch an impeachment procedure, Pashinyan’s rule has so far been unshaken.

Last month, Armenia returned to Azerbaijan four border villages that it had seized decades earlier, which Pashinyan has defended as part of efforts to secure peace with Azerbaijan.

The area Armenia has retroceded is strategically important for the landlocked country because it controls sections of a vital highway to Georgia.

Armenian residents of nearby settlements say the move cuts them off from the rest of the country, and have accused Pashinyan of giving away territory without getting anything in return.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought two wars for control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region that Baku recaptured last year, ending three decades of Armenian separatist control.

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