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Protesters block roads across Armenia in stand-off with authorities

Staff Writer |
Armenian protesters blocked roads in and around the capital on Wednesday, responding to a call from opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan for a campaign of civil disobedience to force the ruling elite to relinquish its grip on power.

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Ex-Soviet Armenia is locked in a political crisis after the ruling party, severely weakened after days of protests that forced its nominee for prime minister to quit, dug in its heels and refused to back Pashinyan to replace him.

The standoff is being watched closely by Russia, which sees Armenia as a close ally and is wary of it going the same way as Ukraine, where an uprising swept to power new leaders who pulled the country out of Moscow’s orbit.

In the capital, Yerevan, all the main streets were blocked by cars, minibuses and garbage bins. The road to the international airport was blocked. A spokesman for the civil aviation authority said one flight had been canceled.

Reuters reporters in Yerevan said shops and offices were open, and some people were still trying to get to work, despite the roadblocks. Protesters marched through the streets, shouting “Nikol! Victory!”, waving flags and blowing horns.

Armenian president Armen Sarkissian on Wednesday called for talks to take place this week to resolve the political crisis that has engulfed the small ex-Soviet state since protests led to the prime minister’s resignation last week.

“I deeply regret that the political crisis continues despite the fact that everyone is talking about how dangerous it is for the future of the country,” Sarkissian said, in a statement published by his press service.

“I call for consultations to be continued this coming week, to find a way out of the crisis,” he said.


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