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Unarmed soldiers join anti-government protests in Armenia

People march during a protest against the appointment of ex-president Serzh Sarksyan as the new prime minister in Yerevan

People march during a protest against the appointment of ex-president Serzh Sarksyan as the new prime minister in Yerevan, Armenia April 23, 2018. REUTERS/VAHRAM BAGHDASARYAN/PHOTOLURE

A large group of unarmed Armenian soldiers joined anti-government protests in the capital Yerevan on Monday in a development the Armenian military said was illegal and would be harshly punished.

The move, likely to deepen the country’s biggest political crisis in a decade, follows days of street protests against Serzh Sarksyan, the newly-appointed prime minister whom protesters accuse of clinging to power.

Before being appointed prime minister, Sarksyan, 63, did a 10-year stint as president. Under a constitutional change, most state powers are now invested in his new role.

The protests, though peaceful so far, threaten to destabilize a key Russian ally in a volatile region riven by a long low level conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and would, if successful, be a rare example of people power delivering reform in the former Soviet Union. (Reuters)

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