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Police block entry to Armenian village amidst protests against border delimitation

21 May 2024
Police blocking the road to Kirants. Photo: Narek Aleksanyan/Hetq

Armenian police over the weekend blocked access to the village of Kirants, which is directly affected by a delimitation agreement with Azerbaijan, prompting claims of food shortages in the village.

On Monday, the Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, the leader of Tavush for the Motherland, an anti-government movement formed to protest the delimitation process in the province of Tavush, led his group to meet with the residents of Kirants.

Police have blocked ‘unregistered citizens’ from entering the village since Sunday, with the National Security Service stating that they were ‘carrying out preparations’ for stationing border guards in the area. The village has been particularly active in protesting against delimitation in the region, with its residents repeatedly blocking a road connecting Armenia to Georgia. 

Yerevan and Baku agreed in late April to delimit parts of their shared northern border, which includes Kirants, based on Soviet maps dating back to the 1970s.

Since access to the village was blocked on Sunday, the Tavush for the Motherland movement has claimed there was a ‘shortage of bread and food’ in Kirants, with suppliers being refused access to the village. 

Tavush’s local authorities dismissed the movement’s claims in a brief Facebook post, stating that they ‘did not correspond to reality’. 

A village under lockdown

Galstanyan’s Tavush for the Motherland movement returned to Kirants from Yerevan after they had marched to the capital to protest the delimitation process there.


Upon reaching Yerevan, the group demanded Prime Minister Pashinyan’s resignation and vowed to hold acts of ‘civil disobedience’ in the city. 

Galstanyan attempted to enter Kirants on Monday, but was denied entry by the police. He eventually entered the village through undisclosed means and met with its residents.

The archbishop was later escorted out of the village by police.

Archbishop Galstanyan facing police near Kirants. Photo: Narek Aleksanyan/Hetq

Galstanyan said that the residents of the village encouraged him to continue protesting against the government and the delimitation process.

‘It is everyone’s wish that this disaster should stop and must be stopped’, he said after being escorted out of the village.

Galstanyan said that upon his arrival to Kirants, the residents of the village were ‘hiding in corners and living like the dead’, but immediately gathered outside to receive him once they heard he was visiting.

‘The village was not the village I knew. Life had changed. When we entered the village, it was like a ghost village, a ghost territory, there were no people at all. I have never seen this village like this in my life,’ Galstanyan told reporters.

Other members of the movement also attempted to enter Kirants, leading to the police apprehending and releasing 14 of them on the same day.

The movement called for a rally on 26 May, but did not specify where the rally would take place.

‘Divided in two’

The border delimitation agreement with Azerbaijan has been met with criticism from the opposition, who accuse the government of offering unilateral concessions to Azerbaijan.

Garnik Danielyan, a member of the opposition Armenia Alliance faction, said on Monday that the government’s unilateral concessions had resulted in Kirants being divided between Armenia and Azerbaijan, leaving it ‘without any security guarantee’.

‘The border will pass by the school in the centre of Kirants’, said Danielyan, echoing concerns raised by the protest movement earlier this month.

Last week, Armen Grigoryan, the Secretary of the Security Council, told Public TV that four buildings would be handed over to Azerbaijan based on the delimitation agreements.

‘One of these four buildings is a house, one is a shack, the other is a [lorry] trailer shop, not working now, and one is a garage’.

Grigoryan vowed that the government would address issues raised by the residents of Kirants and that it would build a road that would pass ‘entirely through the territory’ of Armenia.

Although Grigoryan did not elaborate on what he meant by the government’s construction of a road, the Prime Minister’s Office stated on Sunday later that the authorities had begun constructing a road going through Kirants on Sunday.

Armenia had previously stated that a major road going through Kirants that led to Georgia would have to be circumvented as it would be handed over to Azerbaijan in the delimitation process.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.
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