Police and protesters have clashed in the Armenian capital Yerevan as anti-government protesters besieged the residence of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
On Friday evening, police deployed stun grenades and batons to disperse protesters gathered near the PM’s residence, making several arrests. The violence errupted as protesters attempted to march to Parliament but were blocked by police.
Protests demanding Pashinyan’s resignation and supported by the Armenian opposition have been ongoing in Yerevan since early May. The protests began after the opposition accused the government of planning to make concessions regarding the status of Nagorno-Karabakh in peace negotiations with Baku.
Local media reported that at least thirty-five protesters were hospitalised in the clashes. One officer told journalists that they had used force after protesters hit them with stones.
Daniel Ioannisyan, a democracy activist at the Union of Informed Citizens wrote that protesters had acted aggressively at the demonstration near the PM’s residence. ‘Opposition leaders did everything they could to make the clash happen, but the police failed to prevent it’, he wrote.
՛At least 20 policemen suffered head injuries from large stones thrown by citizens՛, Ioannisyan wrote. ‘The heads of those policemen were washed in blood, resources in the area were not sufficient to provide officers with proper first aid’.
Following the clashes, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and an MP from the opposition Armenia Alliance bloc called for supporters to gather at France square in central Yerevan for a late-night rally.