Armenian News - NEWS.am presents the digest of top news of protests in Yerevan as of 20.05.22:
- Armenia hosted on Friday a forum for democracy attended by Armenian government officials, civic activists and Western diplomats, including the EU and US ambassadors.
The forum took place in a Yerevan hotel guarded by riot police and other security forces.
Journalists were not allowed to cover the forum. Hundreds of people led by opposition lawmakers rallied outside the building.
Some of opposition members of parliament tried to enter the hotel’s main conference room to take part in the forum but were stopped by Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan’s bodyguards.
During the forum, Pashinyan again claimed to have turned Armenia into an established democracy.
“Our task today is to prove that democracy can ensure the internal and external security of our country,” Pashinyan noted.
Despite Pashinyan’s democracy speech, demonstrators were demanding his resignation outside the hotel hosting the forum.
Meanwhile, during her speech, EU Ambassador to Armenia Andrea Wiktorin, noted that there are tangible challenges right now affecting democracy around the world, and Armenia has also faced serious challenges such as the Covid pandemic, the 44-day war and post-war situation, and most recently the impact of Russia's "war in Ukraine."
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracy welcomed earlier this week the outcome of last year’s parliamentary elections won by Pashinyan’s party.
Tracy said Armenians “recommitted themselves” to democratic values during the snap elections. Speaking at Friday’s conference, Tracy expressed concern over what she described as disproportionate use of force by the Armenian police against protesters. She suggested that Pashinyan’s government is “taking heed of the need to investigate” the police actions. Meanwhile, Ishkhan Saghatelyan, the main speaker at the ongoing protests, responded by accusing the US and other Western powers of turning a blind eye to government pressure on the Armenian judiciary, the existence of “dozens of political prisoners” and other human rights abuses in the country.
“With your silence, you are contributing to dictatorship in Armenia,” he noted on Wednesday.
- Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda started his two-day visit to Armenia, where he arrived following his visit to Azerbaijan. He was solemnly received at the presidential residence in Yerevan, while protesters were chanting anti-government slogans.
Lithuania advocates closer EU-Armenia integration, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said at a joint press conference with Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan.
During a meeting in Yerevan the two leaders discussed bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and Armenia, the security situation in the Caucasus region, democratic reforms in Armenia, and EU-Armenia relations.