GUMRI (Combined Sources) — Hundreds of people marched in Yerevan on Monday to denounce visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, December 2, and protest against plans to join a Moscow-led customs union.
Some of the estimated crowd of 500 in central Yerevan held up banners declaring “Putin, go home” or “No to the USSR”, a reference to the Russian leader’s efforts to bind former Soviet republics together more closely in economic and security alliances.
Police in Yerevan said they detained 110 protesters, the local news agency Arminfo reported.
Putin flew to Gumri on Monday for talks on Armenia’s decision in September to join Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in a Customs Union, which he touted as having already brought “tangible dividends.” He went to the capital later in the day.
Putin has made clear Moscow wants to increase its influence in the strategic region sandwiched between Russia, Turkey, Iran and the oil and gas deposits of the Caspian Sea basin.
“We are going to strengthen our position in the South Caucasus, drawing on the best of what we have inherited from ancestors and good relations with all countries in the region,” Putin told a Russian-Armenian regional forum. “Participation in the Customs Union … already is bringing Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus tangible dividends.”