The 'New Armenia, the New Patriarch' movement participants, demanding the resignation of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, have broken into the chancellery of the head of the Armenian church at the Etchmiadzin Monastery.
The protesters "are making ultimatums and behaving provocatively. They do not want to heed the calls to stop these unacceptable actions," head of the chancellery's press service Vagram Melikyan wrote on Facebook.
The leader of the group demanding the resignation of the Catholicos, Karen Petrosyan, said the protesters had been attacked by clergymen. "We will stand here and will not leave until the Catholicos leaves his post," he warned.
Law enforcement currently on scene.
Later Vagram Melikyan wrote on Facebook that the Catholicos is ready to meet with the protesters personally. After the meeting with the activists, Bishop Arshak Khachatryan said that the Catholicos did not intend to give up his rank, and activists should not speak in the language of ultimatums.
Protests and rallies, the participants of which demanded the departure of Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, were held in Yerevan. Several priests also joined the 'New Armenia, the New Patriarch' movement.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan earlier said that the state should not interfere in the work of the church.
Ex-mayor of Yerevan Vahagn Khachatryan, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Karekin II has nothing to do with the Sargsyan and Kocharyan clans, against which the spring "velvet revolution" was directed in Armenia, but there are people who are not satisfied with him. "A certain group of believers did not like the fact that the church has not reacted to the events of the last 20 years in Armenia - corruption and persecution because of political opinions. There is a special attitude towards the church in Armenia,because the church has always played the most important role in Armenian history," he said.
"After the adherents of free ideas came to power, it was quite expected that those who are dissatisfied with the church will decide to bring their accusations to the Catholicos, declare his personal fault that the church has not interfered in Armenia's event. Of course, one cannot rule out the possibility that there is a group of people in the church, who are dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the church for personal reasons and who use the situation in their country for their own purposes," Vahagn Khachatryan drew attention.
The outcome of the protests against Karekin II is still unclear. "The church has its own rules, in particular, no one can remove the Catholicos, if he does not want to. The protests against him last for 2 months. The problem here is that the government has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of the church. But at the same time there may be people in the church, who violate the laws of the Republic of Armenia, and the police have to do something about them," the former mayor of Yerevan expects.
"If the tension grows, then Nikol Pashinyan's intervention as the leader of the spring revolution will be necessary. In the current situation in Armenia, he is the only one who can influence such issues," Vahagn Khachatryan added.
The writer, journalist, Vesti FM radio station host Armen Gasparyan, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza earlier, noted that people who have organized the "velvet revolution" in Armenia have long associated Karekin II with Serzh Sargsyan, and therefore they want to replace him. "For 5 years supporters of the opposition have said that the Catholicos is in direct contact with the leadership of the country. During the April events, certain people even talked about the need for lustration of Catholicos and a number of other priests. It was expected that these conversations may cause this completely incomprehensible action," he said.
The expert pointed out that Pashinyan's team should pay more attention to the situation around the rallies against the Catholicos of all Armenians. "I would like the new government to clearly state its position. In our general history, there have already been cases when they tried to demonize priests as a result of revolutionary events. It was never a good idea," Armen Gasparyan stressed.