YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenia’s government lifted on Wednesday serious restrictions on civil liberties stemming from martial law declared by it following the outbreak of the Nagorno-Karabakh war on September 27.
Martial law allowed the government to not only call a nationwide mobilization of army reservists but also ban rallies, strikes and media reports critical of its war-related decisions. Citing the mobilization, it also prohibited men under the age of 55 from leaving the country without permission granted by military authorities.
The government announced the lifting of these bans in a decision posted on its website. The chief of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s staff also issued a separate statement to that effect.
The move came one week after the pro-government majority in the Armenian parliament rejected opposition demands to lift martial law altogether.
The two opposition parties represented in the National Assembly said the restrictions are no longer necessary after a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the bloody war on November 10.
Government officials and parliament majority leaders countered that martial law is still needed for the ongoing redeployment of Armenian army units along Armenia’s border with four districts west of Karabakh handed over to Azerbaijan as a result of the war and the truce agreement.
They said the Defense Ministry has drafted legislation allowing it to call up army reservists without martial law. The government, they said, needs time to examine and approve the ministry proposals.
Opposition lawmakers claimed that the authorities are keeping the restrictions in place to stifle street protests against the truce accord that locked in Azerbaijan’s sweeping territorial gains. They also argued that martial law does not allow parliamentary motions of no confidence in Pashinian and his cabinet.