Wednesday, Yerevan Mayor’s Office Blocked By Opposition Protesters • Narine Ghalechian Armenia - Opposition supporters block the main entrance to the Yerevan mayor's office, . Armenian opposition leaders and their supporters blocked the building of the Yerevan mayor’s office on Wednesday as they continued their daily rallies demanding Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation. The building’s four entrances remained blocked for more than an hour, preventing municipal administration staff from leaving it. Riot police repeatedly warned the protesters that the blockade is illegal but did not try to disperse them. Ishkhan Saghatelian, the main speaker at the more than weeklong protests, dismissed the warnings, saying Pashinian used the same tactic when he swept to power in 2018. He accused the municipal administration of intimidating its employees sympathizing with the Armenian opposition. Saghatelian promised more such blockades after the crowd marched to the city’s France Square, the scene of an opposition tent camp set up on May 1. Speaking at a late-night rally held there, he said the opposition will disrupt the work of central and local government bodies in a bid to create “diarchy” in the country. Saghatelian said the organizers of the “civil disobedience” campaign also hope to attract bigger crowds in the coming days. “We must increase the number of our actions and their participants,” he told the crowd. Earlier in day, the opposition organized several simultaneous processions of cars that drove slowly through various parts of Yerevan to try to drum up greater popular support for the campaign. Pashinian, who is accused by Armenia’s leading opposition forces of planning to make sweeping concessions to Azerbaijan, has rejected demands for his resignation. Armenian Airline Banned From Turkish Airspace • Sargis Harutyunyan • Tatevik Sargsian Armenia - A FlyOne Armenia plane takes off from Yerevan's Zvartnots airport, March 17, 2022. Turkey has banned an Armenian airline from flying to and from Europe through its airspace. The private carrier, FlyOne Armenia, reported the ban earlier this week. It said it has cancelled its regular flights to Paris and another French city, Lyon, as a result. The Turkish civil aviation authority gave no reason for the ban. It has yet to respond to a request for comment filed by RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. Stepan Payaslian, a senior official from the Armenian government’s Civil Aviation Committee, said on Wednesday that FlyOne Armenia appealed to it for help. He said the committee could not directly contact the authorities in Ankara because of the absence of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey. It therefore forwarded the airline’s request to the Armenian ministries of foreign affairs and infrastructures as well as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), added Payaslian. “We have not yet received a reply,” Payaslian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. The official said that the Turkish ban is “incomprehensible” given the fact that FlyOne Armenia is still allowed to fly to Istanbul. FlyOne Armenia and a private Turkish carrier launched Yerevan-Istanbul flights in February following the start of Turkish-Armenian negotiations on normalizing relations between the two neighboring states. Turkish officials touted that as a major step towards the normalization. Turkey had banned all Armenian aircraft from its airspace in September 2020 three weeks before the outbreak of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh. Although Armenia did not retaliate against the move, Turkish planes reportedly stopped flying over Armenia during the six-week war. FlyOne Armenia was set up last year by Armenian and Moldovan investors. According to Armenian media reports, it is controlled by individuals linked to Khachatur Sukiasian, a wealthy businessman and lawmaker representing Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party. Sukiasian has been a vocal advocate of Armenia’s rapprochement with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Pashinian Touts Armenia’s ‘Balanced’ Foreign Policy Netherlands - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at Clingendael Institute in The Hague, . Armenia will continue to seek simultaneously good relations with Russia and the West despite their intensifying standoff over Ukraine, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian indicated during an official visit to the Netherlands on Wednesday. Speaking at a Dutch think-tank, Clingendael Institute, Pashinian said Russia remains Armenia’s “strategic ally.” He stressed at the same time that his government is deepening ties with the European Union because “the EU is Armenia’s main partner in the sphere of democratic reforms.” “The world order is changing before our eyes, and nobody knows what it will look like in the end,” Pashinian said, clearly alluding to the war in Ukraine. “For countries like Armenia, these are the most dangerous times. This must be noted and understood.” “It is not easy for us to pursue a balanced [foreign] policy but we are doing everything to succeed in that endeavor,” he added, according to the Armenpress news agency. Armenia, which is a member of Russian-led military and trade blocs and hosts Russian troops on its soil, has refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, let alone joining Western sanctions imposed on Moscow. Pashinian and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to strengthen political, economic and security ties between their countries when they met outside Moscow last month. Pashinian spoke of “common challenges” facing Armenia and Russia at a separate meeting with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. Armenia Scraps COVID-19 Health Pass Armenia -- Customers at a cafe in Yerevan, May 4, 2020. Amid record-low coronavirus cases in Armenia, health authorities in Yerevan have formally abolished a mandatory health pass for entry to cultural and leisure venues which has been barely enforced in recent months. The Armenian government introduced the measure on January 22 during an Omicron-driven wave of coronavirus infections. Only those people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test were supposedly allowed to visit bars, restaurants, museums, theaters or other public venues. The measure proved ineffectual, however, as most restaurants, bars and other private entities stopped requiring visitors to produce evidence of their vaccination or a negative test result one or two weeks after its introduction. Very few of them were fined for their non-compliance. Nevertheless, the country’s COVID-19 infection rate has steadily and significantly declined in the last three months. The Armenian Ministry of Health has reported an average of several cases a day this month, sharply down from a record high of 4,500 cases registered on February 2. The ministry announced on Wednesday that the health pass will no longer be in force starting from Thursday because of the “relatively stable epidemiological situation.” The ministry earlier scrapped a mandatory testing requirement for travellers entering Armenia. The Armenian authorities have recorded more than 10,300 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Less than half of the country’s population has been vaccinated against the disease. Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL Copyright (c) 2022 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc. 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.