Armenian Protesters Paralyse Metro in Growing Unrest

(Reuters) – Protesters briefly shut down the metro network in Armenia's capital on Wednesday, the metro operator said, part of growing anti-government unrest in recent weeks against possible concessions over territory disputed with neighbour Azerbaijan.

Footage from social media showed protesters standing in the doors of metro carriages, blocking trains from moving. The activists were demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and chanting anti-government slogans, TASS news agency reported.

"Citizens carried out protest action in Yeritasardakan metro station, disrupting metro traffic", the metro in capital Yerevan said, adding that the doors to all subway stations had been closed in response.

In a statement published about an hour later, the metro said that traffic had been restored.

Over 350 people were detained across the city on Wednesday, RIA news agency reported, citing the police. A police spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many people had been arrested and why.

Protests have simmered for weeks since Pashinyan said the international community wanted Armenia to "lower the bar" on its claims to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The Nagorno-Karabakh enclave is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but was populated and fully controlled by ethnic Armenians until they lost to Azerbaijan in a six-week war in 2020. A Russia-brokered peace deal that ended the war led to a significant loss of territory for Armenia.

Armenia is currently a close ally of Russia, which has a military base in the northwest of the country and sent peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh under the accord that ended the fighting in 2020.

(Reporting by Caleb Davis in Gdansk; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel) 

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS