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Armenians demand prime minister's resignation following village handover to Azerbaijan

Protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, May 26, 2024.
Protesters attend a rally against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, Sunday, May 26, 2024. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Euronews with AP
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Opposition started in April after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed to cede control of four villages to Azerbaijan.

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Tens of thousands of demonstrators held a protest on Sunday in Armenia, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after Yerevan agreed to hand over control of several border villages to Azerbaijan.

The demonstration was the latest in a series of weekslong gatherings led by Bagrat Galstanyan, a high-ranking cleric and archbishop of the Tavush diocese in Armenia's northeast, from the Armenian Apostolic Church.

He spearheaded the formation of a movement called 'Tavush For The Homeland' after Armenia agreed to cede control of four villages in the region to Azerbaijan in April. Although the villages were the movement's core issue, it has expanded to express a wide array of complaints about Pashinyan and his government.

Archbishop of the Tavush diocese in Armenia's northeast Bagrat Galstanyan addresses a crowd during a rally against PM Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, May 26, 2024.
Archbishop of the Tavush diocese in Armenia's northeast Bagrat Galstanyan addresses a crowd during a rally against PM Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, May 26, 2024.AP

The decision to hand over the villages in Tavush came after a rapid military campaign in September, during which Azerbaijan's military pressured ethnic Armenian separatist authorities in the Karabakh region into surrendering.

After Azerbaijan took full control of Karabakh, about 120,000 people fled the region, almost all of its ethnic Armenian population.

Ethnic Armenian fighters backed by Armenian forces had taken control of Karabakh in 1994 at the end of a six-year war. Azerbaijan reclaimed some territory through fighting in 2020 that ended with an armistice, bringing in a Russian peacekeeping force, which began withdrawing this year.

Pashinyan has said Armenia needs to quickly define the border with Azerbaijan to avoid a new round of hostilities.

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