By Susan Badalian and Naira Bulghadarian
YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenian law-enforcement authorities have opened more than a dozen criminal cases against participants of daily opposition demonstrations aimed at forcing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign.
They say that the protesters have defied police orders to unblock roads and committed “hooligan” acts during the weeklong demonstrations organized by Armenia leading opposition forces.
The Investigative Committee said over the weekend that one man has been arrested on charges of hitting a policeman while two others indicted for burning tires at a blocked street intersection in Yerevan. The committee said other protesters may also be prosecuted for not obeying “legitimate orders” of riot police.
Elinar Vartanyan, a parliament deputy from the main opposition Hayastan alliance, denounced the “absurd” criminal proceedings, saying that they are aimed at discouraging Armenians from campaigning for Pashinyan’s removal from power. She said opposition supporters simply exercised their constitutional right of peaceful assembly.
The authorities have not initiated such proceedings against any police officers accused by the opposition as well as human rights groups of disproportionate use of force. One policeman was caught on camera last week punching an opposition supporter during his arrest.