Amid Protests, Armenia's Prime Minister And Former President Will Resign

In text, published by his office, he said that opposition parliamentarian Nikol Pashinyan, who called protests, "was right".

The peak of the protests was last Tuesday, when some 40,000 people demonstrated in the capital after the parliament elected Sargsyan as the new prime minister.

When Sargsyan switched to the prime minister's job, his ally Armen Sarkisian, a former prime minister and ambassador to Britain, was elected president. It's not my job.

"I got it wrong", Sarksyan said in a statement issued by his office.

The protests which toppled Sarksyan lasted for 11 days and saw tens of thousands of protesters march through Yerevan and other towns, blocking streets and staging sit-ins that disrupted daily life. "I am quitting the country's leadership and the post of prime minister of Armenia".

Earlier Monday, protest leader Pashinyan was freed after police detained him Sunday following failed talks with Sarkisian. The Armenian diaspora in the West fully supports Pashinyan (who, by the way, voted against the ratification of the agreement on Armenia's membership in the EEU), as evidenced by the numerous actions of the Armenian diaspora in the United States and France in support of the anti-Sargsyan movement.

The rallies protesting his appointment as prime minister quickly turned into celebrations, with demonstrators hugging, dancing and cheering.

The Armenian Deputy Prime minister, Karen Karapetyan, has confirmed that he was going to hold a meeting with Pashinyan "to negotiate and find a solution", while opposition leader refused to comment until meeting concluded. The National Assembly must now appoint the people's candidate for prime minister.

A number of uniformed former soldiers and veterans who fought in Nagorny Karabakh - a breakaway region seized by Armenian separatists at the end of the Soviet era - also marched with the protesters.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Putin's spokesman dismissed a question from journalists about whether Russian Federation would intervene in the unrest, saying the protests were an "exclusively internal affair of Armenia".

Atanesian echoed this caution, saying Sarkisian's resignation "will not lead automatically to an ideal liberal democracy", citing a lack of an independent judiciary and key television channels controlled by oligarchs close to Sarkisian.

"People feel humiliated. The impudence, the lawlessness that is characteristic of oligarchic rule", said Hakobyan.

In a story April 22 about protests in Armenia, The Associated Press misspelled the protest leader's name. Sunday's rally attracted some 50,000 demonstrators.

They were released shortly before Sargsyan's resignation announcement. Health officials say 46 people are injured, including six police officers and protest leader Pashinian.

  • Leroy Wright