May 15, 2024 - 14:37 AMT
Civil disobedience campaigns continue in Yerevan

People demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation again blocked streets in Yerevan on Wednesday, May 15 morning, heeding appeals from Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, the leader of ongoing antigovernment protests in the Armenian capital.

During a meeting on May 14, Galstanyan called for a rally on May 15 at Freedom Square in downtown Yerevan.

Galstanyan has earlier urged supporters to “paralyze” the Armenian capital and other parts of the country during another massive rally held in the city’s central Republic Square on May 12. Hundreds of them briefly disrupted traffic in the center of Yerevan the following morning.

On Monday too riot police forcibly unblocked the streets, making the arrests in the process. They were accused of using excessive forces and even detaining protesters who did not close any roads.

“We were just walking on the sidewalk and they took away all of our boys, using brute force,” one young woman told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

There were also reports of similar protests on major highways outside Yerevan. In some of those cars, motorcades of opposition supporters drove very slowly in order to interfere with traffic.

Meanwhile, Galstanyan spent the the past couple of days visiting universities and unions and meeting with students and scholars.

The meetings and the road closures were aimed at stepping up the pressure on Armenian lawmakers. Galstanyan wants them to oust Pashinyan through a vote of no confidence.

The two opposition alliances represented in the parliament have pledged to try to engineer such a vote. But they lack a single vote to force a formal parliament debate on the measure.

Opposition leaders and Galstanyan hope the missing vote will come from Ishkhan Zakaryan, a nominally independent deputy who left the opposition Pativ Unem bloc in 2022. Galstanyan said on Sunday that Zakarian “didn’t refuse to join this process.”

Zakaryan, who rarely attends sessions of the National Assembly, could not be reached for comment on Monday. He was not spotted inside the parliament building either.

Lawmakers representing Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party seemed confident that Zakaryan will not join the opposition push for regime change. Even if he does join, the opposition will have to win over at least 18 of the 71 Civil Contract lawmakers. Parliamentary leaders of Pativ Unem and the larger Hayastan alliance declined to comment on how they plan to muster sufficient support for their planned motion of censure.