Fighting Words: Oppositionists detained while announcing upcoming Ter-Petrosyan rally

Nikol Pashinyan (archive photo)
A group of political oppositionists were detained by police in Yerevan Tuesday night, following an altercation with law enforcement officers.

Members of the “Alternative” bloc (known as “Impeachment” when it formed for last spring’s parliamentary elections) led by Nikol Pashinyan, editor of the ultra-oppositionist newspaper “Armenian Times”, were taken into custody at about 6:30 p.m. and held till early this morning.

Pashinyan and seven others were arrested in the center of Yerevan, while announcing an upcoming oppositional rally over a loudspeaker. An argument between the police and the group over its right to gather led to a brawl, after which the eight were taken into custody.

Pashinyan informed ArmeniaNow that he had pointed out to the police that there was nothing illegal in their actions citing the RA Law on Meetings, Rallies, Marches and Demonstrations. (The law stipulates that the citizens have the right to hold public events without notification, with a number of participants not exceeding 100 and have the right to inform the public using means not prohibited by law, including loudspeakers.)

The activists were announcing the planned public gathering this Friday in which former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan is scheduled to be the featured speaker, marking the first time that he has spoken to the general public since his controversial resignation in 1998.

The Friday rally has already stirred controversy and has led the ruling Republican Party of Armenia to plan a counter event featuring pop stars and prize giveaways.

The group was released around 3:30 Wednesday morning, after Ter-Petrosyan himself went to Central Police headquarters. According to Pashinyan, they were released after Ter-Petrosyan said he would not leave the police department until the detainees had been let go.

Larisa Alaverdyan of the Heritage oppositional faction told ArmeniaNow she and three other members of her party went to the police soon after the detainment and tried to prove the group had not violated any law.

“They first told us they will release the detained very soon after filling in some documents that was supposed to take about half an hour. However, it took too long, and it was then when we were not allowed to enter the police,” says Alaverdyan.

After leaving the police department Pashinyan stated that “Alternative” will support Levon Ter-Petrosyan at the presidential election.

“Besides being a canididate for presidency for us, he is also a friend in battle who spent with us several hours in the police. We were released exceptionally owing to his efforts,” Pashinyan has stated.

Ter-Petrosyan made no public statement concerning the event.