Protesters in Armenia’s capital Yerevan called on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign Tuesday, hours after he denounced calls for a “coup” as Azerbaijan launched a military operation in Armenian-populated Karabakh.
Hundreds of people gathered in Yerevan’s Republic Square, outside Pashinyan’s offices, to denounce his handling of the Karabakh crisis, according to an AFP journalist on the scene, with demonstrators shouting “Nikol traitor!” and “Nikol resign!”
Pashinyan, who has faced protests in Armenia since Yerevan lost a 2020 war with Azerbaijan, earlier warned against calls for a coup.
AFP saw police cordon off Pashinyan’s offices, with some protesters attempting to break through the cordon.
Armenia’s opposition has accused Pashinyan of being weak on Karabakh, a breakaway region populated mainly by ethnic Armenians over which Yerevan and Baku have been locked in a dispute over for decades.
“It’s impossible to have a leader who is losing our territories,” one protester, Gevorg Gevorgyan, a military veteran, told AFP.
“We want to show that the Armenian people will not abandon people in Artsak,” he said, using the Armenian name for Karabakh.
Another protester, Avetik Chalabyan, was also voiced frustration with how authorities have handled the stand off with Azerbaijan.
“(Pashinyan) has been promising peace for three years and, but here we are -- a third war has begun,” he said.
“If the government fails to protect 120,000 of its compatriots, then they are traitors and they must resign,” he said, estimating the population of the breakaway region.
Several hundred people responded to a call by opposition parties to take to the streets over Pashinyan’s Karabakh policies, AFP reports.