YEREVAN – Thousands of people protested in Armenia's capital on Wednesday, demanding the prime minister's resignation after he signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to halt weeks of fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh that calls for territorial concessions in favor of Azerbaijan.
The rally organized by opposition parties in Yerevan reportedly drew up to 10,000 people. Some clashed with police, and many were detained and released later in the day. Demonstrators chanted “Nikol, go away” and “Nikol, the traitor,” referring to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.
The unrest was triggered by a Moscow-brokered truce Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to early Tuesday after more than six weeks of deadly clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994.
The two ex-Soviet nations have been locked in a conflict over the territory for decades. Heavy fighting flared up in late September and has left hundreds, possibly thousands, dead in the biggest escalation in a quarter-century.
Several cease-fires announced over the past six weeks failed to halt the violence, but the current agreement appeared to be holding, with neither side reporting any more fighting since it came into force.
The pact, which is celebrated in Azerbaijan and has angered Armenians, calls for Armenia to turn over control of some areas its holds outside the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh. They include the Lachin region, which the main road leading from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia passes through. The agreement calls for the road, the so-called Lachin Corridor, to remain open and be protected by Russian peacekeepers.
The deal also calls for transport links to be established through Armenia that would connect Azerbaijan and its western exclave of Nakhchivan, which is surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey.
A total of 1,960 Russian peacekeepers, some of whom have already arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh, are to be deployed in the region under a five-year mandate to secure the truce.