An opposition leader in Armenia’s parliament, Gagik Tsarukyan, and several other prominent figures have been detained for organising mass protests against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, investigators said on Thursday.
Thousands of protesters gathered in central Yerevan on Wednesday after Mr Pashinyan agreed to make significant territorial concessions to neighbouring Azerbaijan in a deal to end a bloody six-week flare-up between the two former Soviet republics.
A former vice-speaker of Armenia’s national parliament, Eduard Sharmazanov, and a former head of Armenia’s National Security Service, Artur Vanetsyan, were listed among those detained.
“They have been accused of organising rallies in violation of the law,’’ the Special Investigation Service said in a statement.
“Armenia had forbidden rallies as it declared martial law amid the flare-up with Azerbaijan.’’
More than 1,000 people were reported killed in the flare-up for control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, which for decades has been largely occupied by Christian Armenian troops, but is considered by the United Nations as part of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.
Mr Pashinyan agreed to the peace deal with Azerbaijan and regional power Russia after Armenian forces lost control of the strategically important town of Shushi – Shusha in Azerbaijani and Azerbaijan admitted to shooting down a Russian helicopter, killing two crew members.
According to the deal, Armenia was to cede control of significant territory in the disputed region, including the Agdam, Kalbajar and Lachin districts, and Russia was to deploy a peacekeeping force of almost 2,000 troops.
The recent fighting, which began in late September, was the deadliest between Azerbaijan and Armenia since a war in the late 1980s and early 1990s.