The Movement Held a Follow-Up Protest on Monday
The opposition Homeland Salvation Movement on Saturday hosted a protest rally on Saturday attracting thousands of supporters who joined their voices to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who signed the November 9 agreement that saw the surrender of vast portions of Artsakh, including Shushi.
The organizers had chosen February 20 as the date of the rally, as it coincided with the 33rd anniversary of the start of the Karabakh Liberation Movement, when an unprecedented hundreds of thousands of Armenians flooded the streets of Yerevan and Stepanakert demanding Artsakh’s reunification with Armenia.
At the start of the rally, National Salvation Movement’s candidate for prime minister, Vazgen Manukyan, lamented that it was sad day, since 33 years ago, in the same inclement weather conditions, the Karabakh Liberation Movement kicked off. He said that the Armenians can emerge from the current state of defeat under one condition: the current authorities must be “thrown out.”
“Not only do we have to reclaim what we have lost, but we have to build the country about which we have dreamed,” said Manukyan who added that the country must reject the present authorities, because if “they are replaced with people for whom inequality, falsifying elections and passing out money is their approach, then we will not have reached our goals.”
He said, “in order to build the country of our dreams, first and foremost, we must rebuild our army, ensure our security, which must be defended not by Russian soldiers, but by the Armenian Armed Forces.”
Manukyan also said that Armenia must strengthen its relations with allies, such as China and any other country that is at odds with Turkey.
“33 year since the start of the Artsakh Movement on this historic square, on this historic day we must open a new bright page for the Armenian people,” said Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Ishkhan Saghatelyan, who is also the coordinator of the National Salvation Movement.
He praised the thousands who had come to take part in the protest, despite the extremely cold weather and snow saying, “today you delivered a slap in the face of the authorities, who are saying that this movement has died down and that the people have become accustomed to the [current] situation.”
Saghatelyan said that this popular demand must become a popular fight for justice. He pledged that the movement will continue its efforts in coming days.
Others who spoke at the rally, included Armenia’s former prime minister and the leader of the “Freedom” party Hrant Bagratyan; ARF member and Yerkir Media political director, Gegham Manukyan; Armenia’s former Justice Minister and National Salvation Movement council member Arpine Hovhannisyan; Armenia’s former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan; leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party Gagik Tsarukyan; and political scientist Gegham Nazaryan.
At the conclusion of the rally, organizers urged protesters to split up and march in four different directions after the rally, blocking major street intersections in Yerevan’s center. Riot police did not attempt to disperse them and guarded key government buildings instead.
The National Salvation Movement hosted another rally in Yerevan on Monday.