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19 Nov 2020 | 01:52 AM UTC

Anti-government protesters gather in Yerevan November 18

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators gather in Yerevan on November 18; avoid protests as a precaution

security
ARM

Event

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered in Yerevan on Wednesday, November 18, to continue calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, following the signing of a Russian-brokered peace deal to end the country's conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Reports indicate that some pro-Pashinyan supporters also staged a rally in front of the government building close to the opposing demonstrators. There were no immediate reports of any clashes or arrests at either of the rallies. 

Protests are likely to continue in Armenia in the coming days and weeks. A heightened security presence and associated disruptions should be anticipated in the vicinity of protest sites. Clashes between protesters and security forces are possible.

Context

On November 9, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a Russian-brokered peace deal which effectively ends the recent conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. In the terms of the agreement, Armenia has been forced to concede control of certain areas to Azerbaijan. The news of the deal sparked demonstrations in the capital on November 10 and November 11, calling for Pashinyan's resignation. The country's 17 political opposition parties, including Prosperous Armenia, the Republican Party, and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), also issued a joint statement on November 9 calling for Pashinyan's resignation. Any gatherings will likely be well-attended and security forces will likely intervene to disperse protesters.

Over 1000 people, including civilians, have been killed since the renewed outbreak of hostilities. In addition to fighting along the Line of Contact, cities in Nagorno-Karabakh and outside of the conflict zone have been targeted in artillery strikes including Stepanakert, Ganja, Barda, Beylagan, Terter, and Mingecevir.

Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fuelled tensions between the two countries since 1988; with some 30,000 people being killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead. Tensions between the two countries remain high and each side frequently accuses the other of violating the ceasefire agreement.

Advice

Those in Yerevan are advised to monitor the situation, avoid any demonstrations and large gatherings as a precaution, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities.

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