Armenian protest movement adopts canine mascot

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

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Chalo the dog in Yerevan's Republic SquareImage source, Radio Azatutyun
Image caption,
Chalo followed the opposition protesters for 200km, only to be involved in a traffic accident in Yerevan

A stray dog has become one of the unlikely 'personalities' in the protests in Armenia over who should be the country's next prime minister.

Chalo joined demonstrators and opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan on the first day of a 200km (124-mile) protest march from Armenia's second city of Gyumri to the capital Yerevan at the beginning of April, and stayed for the full 14 days.

On arrival in Yerevan, Chalo was involved in a hit-and-run car accident and was looked after by protesters supporting Mr Pashinyan, who is hoping to become prime minister after weeks of turmoil in the Caucasus nation.

But as US-funded Radio Azatutyun reports, Chalo has recovered enough to rejoin the protests, and attended a rally in central Yerevan's Republic Square on Sunday.

Mr Pashinyan told the rally that Chalo's official name is "Qaylo", which just happens to be very close to his movement's slogan "qayl ara" - take your step.

Animal lover

It's been seen as a smart move by the opposition leader, who's now being praised on social media as an animal lover.

One of his admirers is singer-songwriter Andre Simonian, who notes on his Facebook page that Mr Pashinyan refused a request to slaughter lambs in his honour, recalling something "my grandmother used to say, 'You can always trust a person who loves and cares for the animals'".

Image source, Asekose TV
Image caption,
Chalo follows Mr Pashinyan on the protest march

Mr Pashinyan, who has led the mass protests that forced the last prime minister to resign, says he should be the country's new leader.

Serzh Sargsyan resigned the job on 23 April. He had been accused of trying to cling to power, and stepped down just days after being sworn in as prime minister.

Parliament is to vote for a new premier on 1 May.

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