Armenia: Negotiations Fail, Opposition Leaders Detained, Protesters Increase in Numbers

Protesters flood the streets of Yerevan, following failed negotiations and the detention of the three leaders of the protest movement. (Photo: Daron Titizian/EVN Report)

YEREVAN (A.W.)—At 10 a.m. in Yerevan, negotiations took place between Prime Minister (PM) Serge Sarkisian and opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan at the Marriott hotel in Yerevan’s Republic Square. Pashinyan had earlier made arrangements with President Armen Sarkissian, who traveled to Republic Square the day before to speak with him, to allow press to be present at the negotiations. “I can’t imagine how much we’re going to get done in front of all these journalists,” said PM Sarkisian at the beginning of the interview, “but I’ll be happy for anything we can negotiate.”

Pashinyan then announced that he had come to discuss terms of Sarkisian’s resignation and the “peaceful handover of the government.” The meeting, which lasted three minutes, ended with Sarkisian abruptly ending the conversation and walking out of the room. “You haven’t come here to negotiate,” he told Pashinyan, “you have given us an ultimatum. a blackmail toward the state and the legitimate authorities. You do not realize the level of responsibility. You haven’t learnt lessons from March 1 [referring to the tragic events of March 1, 2008] and if you are going to continue speaking with me in such a tone, I have nothing to do but advise you to come back to the field of law and order, in general, to the scope of logical actions. Otherwise, you will have to take all responsibility. You have to choose.” (paraphrased)

Before Sarkisian’s departure, Pashinyan told him that he was no longer in charge of the country, and that power had shifted into the hands of the people, to which Sarkisian responded that someone who received “six or seven percent of the vote” could not talk about having power of the country.

Just hours after Pashinyan’s conversation with Sarkisian, he was grabbed by security forces, and he is currently being held in detention with two other leaders of the protests—Ararat Mirzoyan and Sasun Mikaelyan (Yelk faction MPs)—in an undisclosed location. According to sources, they were charged with violations of the order established by Armenia’s Law on Freedom of Assembly.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), in coalition with Sarkisian’s government, released a statement following these events. They expressed their continued hope to foster dialogue between the people and the governing political forces of the country, as they believe “there is no other option.”

“Unfortunately, due to opposing approaches, the ongoing process failed today,” the statement read, “but even after the recent events, we continue to believe that it is possible to find solutions even in deadlocked circumstances and to fix the situation. In this regard, it is important that all parties understand that there cannot be winners and losers. The interests of the people and the state are above everything. We urge everyone to soberly evaluate the situation, to avoid extremes, and to search for rational and realistic solutions.”

Meanwhile, chaos ensued on the streets of Yerevan following Pashinyan’s failed negotiations. Tens of thousands of people continued to protest, and some are placing estimates between 60,000 and 100,000 demonstrators. Hours ago, police issued a statement that the protests are considered unlawful and that police will use all means necessary to disperse people. The president of the National Assembly, Ara Babloyan, has also issued a statement calling for the need for political dialogue.

Follow RFE/RL’s Armenian service live stream of the demonstrations below.


  1. The ARF has an opportunity to redeem itself and strike a blow for the Armenian people all at the same time. At the moment, it is in the best position to reverse the traversty of the Democratic process that culminated in Serzh Sarkisian’s assumption of power. But will it?

  2. The ARF is a bankrupt organization that should have realized long ago not to support the criminal oligarchy in Armenia. Have you no shame?! Renounce the government and stand with the people of Armenia!

  3. The good, the bad and the ugly
    The good: Nikol Pashinyan. The man literally started from zero while there was no opposition left in the country. Many considered his march to Yerevan ridiculous and pointless but he was convinced that it is his mission to give people this opportunity to talk. After the so-called parliament appointed serjik as PM, many thought that it is over but he was there the next morning at Republic square almost alone, convinced that people will join him one more time. Whatever the outcome, he did what he promised to people: going all the way till the end.
    The bad: serjik. We knew he was corrupt, we knew he was incompetent, but we had no idea he was so delusional and weak. His storming out of the “talks” was pathetic. Now we know how he acts meeting other leaders. He is completely out of touch with reality, refusing to accept that his rating is probably around 10% and those are the ones who feed on his corrupt system. He was so weak that he even destroyed his sentimental imported PM’s political career. indeed, “political corpse”
    The ugly: Diaspora. Following the news on AW, I could see the huge gap between diaspora and motherland. These are almost two different worlds. News of thousands of Armenians in Armenia blocking the streets right next to hundreds of Armenians gathering in front of Turkish embassies. Diaspora organizations which constantly bombard you with their emails asking you to call your representative for this or that anti-Turkish initiative but now are literally mute. They celebrate 15 million dollar in donations to Armenia Fund yet they totally ignore the billions which are being spent on 22000 police officers in Armenia. Does little Armenia with its safe streets even need that many police officers? No doubt, serjik needs them.

  4. Shame on the Dashnakstutyun. Our organizational leaders should be ashamed of themselves for even permitting the name of the ARF to be associated with Serzh Sarkisyan and the Hanrapetakan Party. Unless, of course, you too have become one of the corrupt elite who have helped create the authoritarian state that Armenia is in today.
    The Dashnakstutyun that I grew up in was the most respected Armenian political organization in the world. Now, by association you have become a part of Armenia’s “Political Mafia”.
    Your calls for dialogue are too little, too late. It’s no wonder that you have such minimal support in Armenia.

  5. The time has come for the Dashnakstutyun to see the light and support the people of Armenia instead of the Hanrapetakan Party and the Armenian Oligarchs. Our organization has been on the wrong side for too many years. THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. If you cannot see this, then maybe it’s time to have our own internal revolt and elect those who are FOR THE PEOPLE.
    The time for change is long overdue, the Bureau members in Armenia have become too complacent. Complacency is not what our founders wanted, or fought for. They wanted change “for the people”, not for themselves. We have a proud history, but unfortunately, our current leaders are not following the lessons taught us by our forefathers. The lesson is; and I repeat it, they fought “for the people”, not for themselves.

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