Armenian protest leader rallies support for premier bid

Kremlin hopes situation in Armenia to be resolved by constitutional means

Armenia will get a new prime minister next week after almost two weeks of street protests, with opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan, who has led the demonstrations, emerging as the protesters' unequivocal favourite.

Pashinian, the only candidate to step forward for the post, also instructed his supporters on April 29 to continue blocking traffic and staging "peaceful and nonviolent" acts of civil disobedience "even though the political situation has changed and there has been certain progress". Sarksyan had previously been president for a decade.

Moscow has two military bases in the ex-Soviet republic, and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Karen Karapetyan, the acting prime minister, on Thursday and made it clear Moscow was watching and did not want mob rule.

On April 23, at 16:00, Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned as widespread protests entered the 11th day.

Protesters in the capital Yerevan took to the streets to celebrate Sargsyan's resignation. The deadline for nominating candidates for the PM role is April 30.

HHK holds 58 seats in the 105-seat parliament, and without its support Pashinian is unlikely to be elected.

Some analysts said they expected a number of Republicans to defect and give their votes to Pashinyan, sealing his victory.

Armenia's parliament will vote for a new premier on May 1. While Prosperous Armenia and all three party's from the Yelk block have now declared their support for the protests, the ARF is still debating doing so. Dashnaktsutyun has also said it will vote for Pashinian.

But it became clear on Tuesday evening that this talk would not take place. On the one side, there are old partners from the current government, whereas on the other side, there is pro-Western politician Pashinyan and his even more pro-Western team.

"Definitely", he said, answering a question on whether Russian Federation will remain Armenia's key partner. "The country is going towards complete destruction if we keep going this way". Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not regard Armenia's political tumult as a Ukraine-style revolt against pro-Russia politicians.

"This political process will help to develop and deepen Armenian-Russian relations more than ever before; we will improve our relations with the USA, the European Union, our two neighbors, Iran and Georgia".

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