( CNN) The Armenian parliament has elected opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as the country's new prime minister, after an outpouring of populist fury against the ruling elite in the former Soviet republic.

Pashinyan's victory amounts to a peaceful revolution in Armenia, a small nation of around 3 million people squeezed between Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia. It marks a dramatic split from a corps of leaders who have run the country since the late 1990 s, developing a reputation for corruption and cronyism.

The tipping point came 2 weeks ago when veteran leader Serzh Sargsyan, who had served the maximum two terms as chairperson, was appointed prime minister — complete with new powers conferred by a controversial referendum he had supported. Many Armenians considered the job swap as a brazen attempt to maintain his grip on power.

May 8, 2018 at 3:01 am PDT