Security Risk Assessment Report: Protests in Armenia

Protest in Armenia
A moment during the protest in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia (Credits: MIG Info Telegram Channel)

Kavkaz Files ISSN 2975-0474 Volume 23 Issue 2
SpecialEurasia OSINT Unit

Executive Summary

Large-scale demonstrations in Yerevan, Armenia, highlight simmering public discontent with the government’s decision to demarcate the border with Azerbaijan.

Led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanyan’s “Tavush for the Motherland” movement, the protests have disrupted public order through road blockades and clashes with law enforcement.

This report analyses the security risks associated with these events, considering geopolitical implications and domestic stability concerns.

Protest in Armenia: Background Information

The government’s decision to demarcate the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, drawing upon the controversial 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration, ignited the protests. Public opposition stems from the historical significance and territorial implications of the affected regions, particularly those associated with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

“Tavush for the Motherland,” established in late April, demands Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation, alleging his handling of the border issue and the broader Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has been inadequate.

Archbishop Galstanyan, a prominent religious figure, has emerged as a leading opposition voice, lending legitimacy and potentially broader societal appeal to the movement. The protestors’ organised tactics, including blocking major arteries and demonstrating near government buildings, show a well-coordinated and committed movement.

Additionally, the involvement of some politicians and support from various societal sectors, encompassing political parties, government agencies, academia, and businesses, underscore the broad spectrum of dissent. This widespread dissatisfaction suggests a potential erosion of public trust in the government’s ability to address critical national security issues.

Security Risk Assessment

On May 26th, 2024, in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, “Tavush for the Motherland” organised a protest that pose multifaceted security risks. The scale and intensity suggest a significant threat to public order. The arrests of more than 200 individuals underscore the possibility of widespread civil disobedience and confrontations with law enforcement.

Road blockades have the capacity to disrupt economic activity and vital services, which can lead to shortages and further escalate social tensions. The involvement of influential figures and the protestors’ willingness to engage in confrontational tactics suggests a sustained and potentially escalating campaign that could overwhelm law enforcement resources and destabilise the country.

The geopolitical context intensifies the security risks. The historically contentious border demarcation inflames nationalist sentiments within Armenia and raises the spectre of interethnic violence, particularly along the border regions with Azerbaijan. The reference to the Alma-Ata Declaration, pivotal for post-Soviet territorial integrity, adds an international dimension.

This context could attract regional actors, leading to external interference or support for different factions within Armenia. Russia, a historical ally of Armenia, and Turkey, a staunch supporter of Azerbaijan, may find themselves drawn into the conflict, further complicating the situation.

Moreover, the internal political landscape, characterised by demands for Pashinyan to step down, exposes significant rifts. The support from diverse groups reflects widespread dissatisfaction with the current administration.

A prolonged political crisis could create a power vacuum, leading to opportunistic actions by extremist elements or foreign actors seeking to exploit the situation.

Clashes between protestors and the Red Berets special police unit, coupled with the attempt to storm the government building, show an escalating situation with the potential for serious violence. The police’s use of sound grenades emphasizes the possibility of employing more aggressive tactics, which can exacerbate the situation and result in casualties. A descent into violence could have a devastating impact on Armenia’s international reputation and deter much-needed foreign investment.


The recent Armenian protests constitute a significant security threat because of the confluence of public dissent, geopolitical tensions, and internal political challenges.

The border demarcation decision has acted as a catalyst for widespread unrest, fuelled by historical grievances, societal divisions, and dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of national security issues.

The Armenian government faces the dual challenge of managing internal dissent while navigating complex geopolitical dynamics. Stabilising the situation necessitates careful negotiation and compromise to address protesters’ demands, including concessions on the border demarcation issue or broader political reforms.

The government must also engage in proactive diplomacy to mitigate the risk of external interference and reassure regional actors of Armenia’s commitment to peaceful resolution.

However, any missteps by the government could further embolden the protestors and lead to a more violent and protracted conflict. The coming weeks and months will be critical in determining the trajectory of these events and their impact on Armenia’s internal cohesion and regional standing.

Read also | Armenia’s prospect in the changing world: an interview with Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan

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