June 13, 2024 - 11:00 AMT
Some 100 detained as protesters, police clash in Yerevan

Riot police fired stun grenades outside the Armenian parliament on Wednesday, June 12 as they clashed with protesters continuing to demand Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation.

The protest leader, Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, rallied thousands of supporters on a street in Yerevan adjacent to the parliament building where Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and members of his government answered questions from lawmakers amid unprecedented security measures taken in and around the chamber.

Addressing the crowd before the session, Galstanyan demanded that Pashinyan meet him to discuss “the terms of his peaceful departure.” He again accused Pashinyan of misrule and “surrender of the homeland,” urging the protesters to prevent him from leaving the building.

“The man who failed the state must not be able to freely go to work, cynically ignore the pain caused to our people because of him,” declared Galstanyan. He repeatedly urged more people to join the protests in the following hours.

Pashinyan rejected the demands for his resignation and lambasted Armenia’s opposition groups supporting the protest movement sparked by his territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

The protesters did not manage to surround the vast compound guarded by scores of police officers from across Armenia as well as armed officers of the National Security Service. Galstanian. At least 60 of them were detained by the police before tensions at the protest site rose dramatically in the evening.

As the police tried to push angry protesters back from another street leading to the parliament, the two sides jostled and then scuffled and threw bottles at each other. The security forces fired over a dozen stun grenades moments later, injuring dozens of protesters as well as at least two journalists. Ambulances arrived at the scene to provide some of them with first medical aid.

The chief of the Armenian police, Aram Hovannisyan, defended the use of stun grenades, saying that “the situation was out of control.” Pashinyan also defended the police actions.

The Armenian Ministry of Health reported afterwards that at least 98 persons were treated for mostly “light and medium-gravity injuries” sustained by them during the clash. According to the Interior Ministry, 16 policemen were injured the outside the parliament.

Galstanian blamed the violence on “police provocations.” He urged the crowd to stay put and continue the protest.

Meanwhile, the parliament session ended in chaos. Some deputies from the ruling Civil Contract party tried to physically confront their opposition colleagues who raged at Pashinyan after he shouted insults at former military leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh critical of him. The prime minister called them “coward deserters” who must “find themselves in prison and spend many years there.” He hastily left the parliament floor during the ensuing ugly scenes.

Pashinyan was apparently not inside the main government building when protesters led by Galstanyan marched to it late in the evening. Galstanyan urged supporters to gather there again during a cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.

“He [Pashinian] must remain on the run in the coming days,” said the protest leader.