Armenian PM Hovik Abrahamyan resigns

YEREVAN , Armenia, Sept. 8 (UPI) — Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan resigned Thursday after months of public protests calling for social reform.

Abrahamyan, 58, called for “new approaches and a new beginning.”

“We must think about the future and form a new government,” he said in his resignation address to Armenia’s Cabinet.

He took office in 2014 as leader of the Republican Party.

The small, landlocked country of 3 million people was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Bordered by Iran, Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, it relies heavily on Russian aid on investment, and has been hit severely by Russia’s economic downturn.

Abrahamyan’s government has faced mass protests over electricity costs, pension reform and increases in public transportation costs. The tension increased when armed men overtook a police station for two weeks in the capital, Yerevan, in July. They demanded freedom for jailed opposition leader Kirair Sefilian and the resignation of the government.

Human Rights Watch accused Armenian police of using excessive force against peaceful protesters and for jailing journalists.

The fall of Abrahamyan’s government was expected after stories circulated in local media Wednesday that he would soon be replaced by Karen Karapetyan, a Gazprom executive and former mayor of Yerevan.

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