Opposition protesters block a government building in Yerevan on May 13.
Thousands of protesters have blocked government buildings in the Armenian capital as nearly two weeks of opposition-led demonstrations continued in an effort to force Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian from office.
The protests and an ongoing disobedience campaign began after Pashinian suggested the international community wanted Armenia to "lower the bar" on its claims in the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
They have also been fueled by public outrage over the death of a pregnant woman struck by Pashinian's motorcade as it traveled through Yerevan. "With this we are showing that Nikol [Pashinian] has no power in the country," Ishkhan Saghatelian, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, was quoted as saying among flag-waving protesters. Some of the protesters briefly blocked access to a medical university on May 13. Armenians have been forced to recalibrate some of their security priorities since six weeks of intense fighting with Azerbaijan ended in defeat in 2020. Pashinian has survived multiple opposition efforts to unseat him since then. The region has also been rattled by the proximity and potential implications of Russia's recent invasion of another post-Soviet state, Ukraine. Yerevan's battle against Azerbaijani forces over Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts more than a year ago ended in a humbling cease-fire that acknowledged Azerbaijani control of swaths of territory held for decades by ethnic Armenians and left Russian troops there to monitor the peace. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev recently signaled a desire for peace talks but said Yerevan must renounce some territorial claims. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said on May 3 that Yerevan and longtime foe and Azerbaijani ally Turkey had agreed to move forward with efforts to normalize relations "without conditions," a move that could lead to the reopening of their shared border.
With reporting by Reuters