ARF Supreme Council of Armenia Chairman, Yerkir Media Political Editor Released from Custody
Several opposition leaders in Armenia were arrested at the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia headquarters on Thursday afternoon local time.
Armenia’s National Security Service officials arrived at the center moments before the opposition leaders were to hold a press conference, during which demands for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s resignation would be amplified and next steps of their movement would be discussed.
Among those arrested on Thursday were ARF Supreme Council of Armenia member Artsvik Minasyan, Arsen Babayan of the Homeland Party and Ara Hakobyan of the National Agenda party.
On Wednesday, several other leaders of those parties and others were arrested either during or after thousands gathered at Liberty Square protesting Pashinyan’s decision to sign an agreement with the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan to end the 45-day Karabakh war, and at the same surrender territories in Artsakh, including Shushi, to Azerbaijan.
Among those arrested on Wednesday were ARF Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Ishkhan Saghatelyan, ARF Supreme Council of Armenian member and editor of Yerkir Media Gegham Manukyan, Homeland Party chairman Artur Vanetsyan, Prosperous Armenia Party chairman Gagik Tsarukyan and leader of the Republican Party of Armenia Edward Sharmazanov.
Tsarukyan, Manukyan, Sharmazanov and two other have been charged with disorderly conduct and violating the martial law that has been in place since the beginning of the Artsakh war on September 27.
On Thursday evening Saghatelyan and Manukyan were released from custody. Saghatelyan, who was released during arraignment was asked to appear at Armenia’s Special Investigative Services.
Upon being released, Saghatelyan said that his and other opposition leaders’ arrests were politically motivated and the government’s way of stifling their calls for Pashinyan to resign.
Despite the arrest of opposition leaders, the scheduled press conference took place with other party leaders conveying the message.
At the beginning of the press conference, ARF Supreme Council of Armenia member Lilit Galstyan informed the gathered press about the arrest of their leaders ahead of the event.
“As you can see, the ‘cluster’ of political prisoners in Armenia is growing. We already have had political prisoners since yesterday because the hunt for dissidents had already started at Liberty Square even before the rally kicked off,” said Galstyan.
Several thousand protesters marched from the Matenadaran to Republic Square demanding Pashinyan’s resignation, saying the signing of the “end of war” agreement was treasonous.
After the end of the protest, police took several demonstrators into custody.