Police Confront Armenian Church Head At War Memorial

28 May 2024


Police tried to stop the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, from visiting a war memorial on Tuesday as Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian led there an official ceremony to mark the 106th anniversary of an independent Armenian republic.

The short-lived republic was officially set up on March 28, 1918 as Armenian army and militia units defeated Ottoman Turkish forces trying to occupy Yerevan and the rest of modern-day Armenia. The decisive battle was fought from May 22-29, 1918 around Sardarapat, a village about 50 kilometers west of Yerevan.

The anniversary has been a public holiday in Armenia, called Republic Day, since the Soviet collapse. The country’s current and former leaders have marked it at a memorial built near Sardarapat in the late 1960s. The official ceremonies there have traditionally been held in the morning.

Pashinian and other top state officials visited the memorial in the afternoon this time around apparently because it was occupied on Monday night by hundreds of antigovernment protesters demanding his resignation. The protesters led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian spent the night there in what looked like an attempt to disrupt the anticipated ceremony. They returned to Yerevan at around noon on Tuesday after celebrating the holiday with patriotic songs and a speech delivered by Galstanian.

Garegin and other senior clergymen arrived at Sardarapat a couple of hours later. Amateur videos shot at the scene showed them running into lines of riot police that kept them a hundred meters from a monument where Pashinian addressed officials, soldiers and border guards on the occasion.

They managed to get through the police cordon after a brief altercation with the policemen. Garegin then laid a wreath and prayed at the memorial.

In a statement released later in the day, the Echmiadzin-based Mother See of the Armenian Church deplored the “condemnable behavior” and “violent actions” of the security forces. It described the incident as “yet another manifestation of shameful and anti-national activities of the authorities.”

The ancient church, to which the vast majority of Armenians belong, officially voiced support for Galstanian and his supporters on May 7 as they marched from the Tavush province to Yerevan to protest against Pashinian’s territorial concessions to Azerbaijan. The outspoken archbishop demanded Pashinian’s resignation when he rallied tens of thousands of people in the capital two days later. His continuing campaign for regime change has been joined or endorsed by virtually all Armenian opposition groups.

Pashinian rejected the demands, defending the land transfer to Baku. He and his political allies have attacked Galstanian and the church as a whole over the past month, threatening to impose new taxes on it.

Galstanian acknowledged on May 21 that he regularly discusses the protest movement with Garegin. During another mass rally held on Sunday, the 53-year-old archbishop, who has until now headed the church’s Tavush Diocese, announced that he has asked the Catholicos to suspend his “spiritual service” in view of his political activities. Garegin’s office announced on Monday that Galstanian has been relieved of his “ecclesiastical and administrative” duties while retaining his episcopal rank.



Source: Azatutyun

Contact Us

The US Armenians promotes businesses, advertising, collaborates, lists jobs, buys and sells products, and many more ideas. We would like to hear your thoughts and feedback, so please feel free to contact us through direct message, or via email at theusarmenians@gmail.com

If you have any questions/concerns about our website/social media platforms, feel free to contact us via email and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

For business/collaboration inquires, feel free to email us, and please in the Subject enter “BUSINESS”.

Thank you!

  • Email:
  • City:
    Los Angeles