YEREVAN (RFE/RL and Armenpress) — A court in Yerevan on Tuesday allowed an Armenian law-enforcement agency to keep in pretrial detention four opposition politicians who were among the organizers of an anti-government demonstration broken up by riot police.
The protest was staged late on Friday in support of opposition gunmen that had seized a police compound in Yerevan’s Erebuni district to demand President Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation. It took place several hundred meters from the compound besieged by security forces.
Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd after the organizers ignored their warnings to march back to the city center. They also detained scores of people.
Three of them — Armen Martirosian, Hovsep Khurshudian and Davit Sanasarian — are senior members of Zharangutyun (Heritage), a major opposition headed by Raffi Hovannisian. The fourth oppositionist, Andrias Ghukasian, is a former presidential candidate.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee charged the four men with organizing “mass disturbances” before asking a district court in Yerevan to allow investigators to keep them under arrest for two months. The court granted the requests after lengthy hearings that began on Monday evening and ended early on Tuesday.
The oppositionists’ lawyers condemned the court rulings as baseless and politically motivated. Martirosian’s lawyer, Givi Hovannisian, said the rulings are based on testimony given by police officers.