Armenians call for resignation of prime minister Nikol Pashinyan after border villages handed to Azerbaijan

27 May 2024, 12:23 | Updated: 27 May 2024, 16:12

Tens of thousands of Armenian protesters have called for the resignation of prime minister Nikol Pashinyan after the nation agreed to hand over control of several border villages to Azerbaijan.

Demonstrators clashed with police after blocking main streets in the capital city of Yerevan on Sunday and the police said 196 people have been detained.

The gathering was the latest in a weeks-long series of demonstrations led by a high-ranking cleric in the Armenian Apostolic Church and archbishop of the Tavush diocese in Armenia's northeast, where the four returned villages are located.

Bagrat Galstanyan spearheaded the formation of a movement called Tavush For The Homeland after Armenia agreed to cede control of the villages in the region to Azerbaijan in April.

The movement has since expanded to encompass a wide array of complaints about Mr Pashinyan and his government.

The decision to turn over the villages in Tavush followed a lightning military campaign in September which saw Azerbaijan's military force ethnic Armenian separatist authorities in the Karabakh region to lay down their weapons.

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

Ethnic Armenian fighters, backed by Armenian forces, had taken control of Karabakh in 1993 at the end of a six-year war.

Read more from Sky News:
Warning of 'danger to life' from flooding as thunderstorms strike
More than 2,000 people buried alive in Papua New Guinea
Israeli airstrikes 'kill 45' after Hamas launched rockets at Tel Aviv

Azerbaijan regained some of the territory in fighting in 2020, which ended in an armistice that brought in a Russian peacekeeper force, which began withdrawing this year.

Mr Pashinyan has said Armenia needs to quickly define its border with Azerbaijan to avoid another round of hostilities.