Armenian police make arrests at protest against Karabakh peace deal

YEREVAN (AFP) – Armenian police arrested demonstrators in the capital Yerevan yesterday as anger mounted over Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to sign a controversial peace deal with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said hundreds of protesters had gathered in central Yerevan shouting “Nikol the traitor”, adding that police had detained demonstrators including high-profile opposition figure Gagik Tsarukyan.

Pashinyan announced the Russian-brokered peace agreement with Azerbaijan in the early hours of Tuesday, ending more than six weeks of intense fighting that left more than 1,400 dead and displaced tens of thousands.

“You will not be able to stop the whole country,” a member of the Prosperous Armenia party, Arman Abovyan, shouted through a megaphone to protesters who had rallied despite a ban imposed on public gatherings while martial law was in place.

Under the terms of the agreement, Azerbaijan’s forces will retain control over areas seized in the fighting, including the key town of Shusha, while Armenia agreed to a timetable to withdraw from large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The mountainous region of Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan nearly 30 years ago but it has not been recognised internationally, even by Armenia.

Armenian police officers detain a protestor near the government building after a protest against the country’s agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan. PHOTO: AFP