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Armenians Camped Outside Parliament Vow Anew To Oust Pashinian

Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian's anti-government supporters camp out on Baghramian Avenue next to the Armenian parliament in Yerevan on June 10.
Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian's anti-government supporters camp out on Baghramian Avenue next to the Armenian parliament in Yerevan on June 10.

More than a dozen tents blocked traffic on a main avenue outside Armenia's parliament on June 10 as supporters of Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian pressed their demand for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian's government over its territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

It is the evolving opposition's latest tactic in a confrontation that began in the northeastern province of Tavush in April as Armenia and Azerbaijan began the demarcation process of their heavily militarized border following an agreement announced by Yerevan and Baku.

"This is the first step of the no-confidence process or the first step of the impeachment process," Galstanian told journalists on June 10, one day after he called in front of thousands of people at a rally in Yerevan for four days of nonstop street protests. "I ask you to ask the deputies about legal solutions and steps."

Protesters Camp Out In Yerevan, Calling For Prime Minister's Ouster
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The National Assembly was set to open a new session later in the afternoon next to Baghramian Avenue where green tents were pitched under light rain.

Pashinian, whose Civil Contract party has a two-thirds majority in parliament, has remained defiant under nearly two months of pressure.

Under Armenia's constitution, at least one-third of lawmakers can initiate a no-confidence vote against the prime minister in parliament, provided they also name a candidate who will replace them.

Police have closed several streets leading to the anti-government encampment to avoid disruptions to parliament or a spillover in other parts of the capital.

Galstanian has vowed that the police presence won't intimidate protesters.

At one point late on June 9 a heated verbal exchange broke out between Galstanian, a nationalist priest from one of the embattled border regions who has bridged the divide between faith and government to lead the most serious challenge so far to Pashinian's six-year reign as prime minister.

The outspoken head of the Tavush Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church said that nonstop street protests were needed to "impose our will."

Armenia recently handed over four abandoned villages that used to be part of Soviet Azerbaijan but which came under Armenian control in the early 1990s during the first Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

The handover followed two intense flareups in the past four years in which Azerbaijani forces retook Nagorno-Karabakh from Yerevan-backed ethnic Armenian forces as well as surrounding districts.

The demarcation, which was formally completed on May 15, alters the boundary in a way that affects the infrastructure of a number of Armenian border villages, which the Armenian government has pledged to fix within weeks.

Local populations have expressed fears of possible further Azerbaijani attacks after the Armenian military withdrawal from their positions held for over three decades.

But the Pashinian government insists that having a demarcated border in itself is an assurance against further conflict.

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