YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A prominent surgeon running a hospital in Yerevan and supporting an Armenian opposition group was arrested again on Wednesday, June 23, on charges of pressuring his subordinates to participate in the June 20 parliamentary elections.
Professor Armen Charchyan, the director of the Izmirlian Medical Center, was first detained last Friday after a non-governmental organization publicized a leaked audio recording of his meeting with hospital personnel.
Charchyan, who ran for the parliament on the opposition Hayastan bloc’s ticket, can be heard telling them that they must vote in the snap elections. “After the elections I will take voter lists and see who went to the polls and who didn’t,” he warns.
A Yerevan court freed Charchyan from custody on Saturday, June 26, before he was formally charged under a Criminal Code article carrying between four and seven years in prison. The court allowed the Special Investigative Service (SIS) on Wednesday to arrest and hold him in detention pending investigation.
A lawyer for Charchyan, Erik Andreasyan, said he will appeal against the decision. “Mr. Charchyan is subjected to political persecution,” he told reporters.
Hayastan, which is led by former President Robert Kocharyan, has also condemned the criminal proceedings as politically motivated.