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Narek Aleksanyan

Border Deal Opposition Leader Archbishop Galstanyan Returns to Kirants

Tavush Primate Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan, who has spearheaded a movement opposed to the Armenian government’s border deal with Azerbaijan, went to Tavush Province on May 20 to meet the residents of the border village of Kirants.

Parts of the village will be handed over to Azerbaijan according to the deal. On May 4, Galstanyan led a protest march from Kirants to Yerevan, gathering supporters along the way.

Police on site did not allow Galstanyan and the citizens who came with him, as well as journalists, to approach the village, referring to the statement issued by the National Security Service, according to which the entry of citizens without registration in Kirantsi is temporarily restricted.

It should be noted that the police closed the road not at the entrance to the village of Kirants, but further, in the middle of Sarigiugh and Nerkin Tzaghkavan communities. The police phalanx was opened for the residents of Kirants, as well as for all those vehicles who verified that they were not going to Kirants but would continue to the next communities or leave the country. The interstate road closed by the police was also opened for tourist vehicles going to Georgia.

According to the National Security Service, preparations are being made to take over the protection of the state border of the Republic of Armenia around Kirants village.

Sometime after negotiating with the police, Galstanyan managed to enter Kirants without journalists and meet the villagers. During the bishop's absence, the police announced over the loudspeaker, "Dear citizens, your gathering is illegal, it restricts the interests of the public and the basic rights of other citizens and violates public order. If you do not stop the gathering voluntarily, it will cause legal liability and the police will disperse it."

Fourteen citizens were arrested and released hours later.

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