Protests Shut Streets in Armenia’s Capital, Roads in Other Parts to Demand PM’s Resignation 

Armenian law enforcement officers stand guard outside Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's residence as demonstrators gather near it to demand his resignation over land transfer to neighboring Azerbaijan, in Yerevan on May 26, 2024. (AFP)
Armenian law enforcement officers stand guard outside Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's residence as demonstrators gather near it to demand his resignation over land transfer to neighboring Azerbaijan, in Yerevan on May 26, 2024. (AFP)
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Protests Shut Streets in Armenia’s Capital, Roads in Other Parts to Demand PM’s Resignation 

Armenian law enforcement officers stand guard outside Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's residence as demonstrators gather near it to demand his resignation over land transfer to neighboring Azerbaijan, in Yerevan on May 26, 2024. (AFP)
Armenian law enforcement officers stand guard outside Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's residence as demonstrators gather near it to demand his resignation over land transfer to neighboring Azerbaijan, in Yerevan on May 26, 2024. (AFP)

Protesters demanding the resignation of Armenia's prime minister on Monday blocked main streets in the capital city and other parts of the country, sporadically clashing with police.

Police said 196 people have been detained in Yerevan. Protests have roiled the country for weeks, sparked by the government's return of four border villages to Azerbaijan.

The demonstrations are spearheaded by Bagrat Galstanyan, a high-ranking cleric in the Armenian Apostolic Church and archbishop of the Tavush diocese in Armenia’s northeast, where the returned villages are located.

Although the villages were the protests' rallying point, they have expanded to express a wide array of complaints against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his government.

Top figures in Gastanyan's Tavush for the Homeland movement told a huge rally in Yerevan on Sunday that they support Galstanyan becoming the next prime minister.

The decision to turn over the villages in Tavush followed a lightning military campaign in September, in which Azerbaijan’s military forced ethnic Armenian separatists in the Karabakh region to capitulate.

After Azerbaijan took full control of Karabakh, about 120,000 people fled the region, almost all from its ethnic Armenian population.

Ethnic Armenian fighters backed by the Armenian military had taken control of Karabakh in 1994 after a six-year war. Azerbaijan regained some of the territory after fighting in 2020 ended an armistice brought on by a Russian peacekeeping force, which began withdrawing this year.

Pashinyan has said Armenia needs to quickly define the border with Azerbaijan to avoid a new round of hostilities.



Iran Top Court Overturns Rapper Toomaj Salehi’s Death Sentence, Lawyer Says

People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
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Iran Top Court Overturns Rapper Toomaj Salehi’s Death Sentence, Lawyer Says

People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)

Iran's supreme court has overturned Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi's death sentence on charges linked to the country's 2022-23 period of unrest, his lawyer wrote in a post on the X social media platform on Saturday.

"The death sentence of #Toomaj_Salehi was overturned and based on the appeal decision ...of the Supreme Court, the case will be referred to (another) branch for consideration," attorney Amir Raisian wrote on X.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the ruling.

Salehi's songs supported protests sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for allegedly wearing an "improper" hijab.