Armenian police detain anti-PM protesters

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Armenian police have detained dozens of protesters who marched and blocked roads calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan over his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.

Pashinyan has faced heavy criticism for agreeing to a Russian-brokered ceasefire after Armenia was defeated by Azerbaijan in a six-week war in 2020 and lost significant territory in and around the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Television footage showed officers grabbing protesters and dragging them into vans.

Police said they had detained 92 protesters by mid-afternoon on Thursday.

The landlocked South Caucasus country has had a string of protests in recent days as pressure mounts on the embattled prime minister.

Protesters have blocked roads and bridges in the capital Yerevan this week and called on the population to commit acts of civil disobedience.

Demonstrators with tricolour Armenia flags draped around their shoulders chanted: "Pashinyan, leave!"

Outside the city, demonstrators blocked traffic on the highway linking Yerevan to the town of Gavar in the east, a news website reported.

Russia is a close ally of Armenia, with a military base in the northwest of the country.

It sent peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh under the accord that ended the fighting.

Asked about Russia's position on the protests, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a domestic issue for Armenia.

"We are interested in this period ending in Armenia as soon as possible and for a period of stability to resume, allowing us to gradually move towards the implementation of the trilateral agreements on Nagorno-Karabakh," Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

Pashinyan angered the opposition last month when he said the international community had urged Armenia to "lower the bar" on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated and until recently fully controlled by ethnic Armenians.

Azerbaijan said last month it was ready for negotiations on a peace treaty with Armenia but said officials in Yerevan needed to renounce any claim on its territory.

Pashinyan - who says he agreed to the Russian-brokered ceasefire in 2020 to avoid further losses - has insisted he will not sign any peace deal with Azerbaijan without consulting ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

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