Protests in support of Gayane Hakobyan

Pashinyan Defends Arrest Of Fallen Soldier’s Mother


YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan sought to justify on May 22 the arrest of a grief-stricken woman accused of attempting to “kidnap” his son which has sparked street protests and widespread condemnation in Armenia.

Gayane Hakobyan, whose son Zhora Martirosian was killed during the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, was detained last Wednesday after an argument with Ashot Pashinyan. Citing the latter’s testimony, Armenia’s Investigative Committee said that Hakobyan tricked the young man into getting into her car after she ran into him outside a court building in Yerevan.

The younger Pashinyan jumped out of the car shortly after Hakobyan drove it towards the Yerablur Military Pantheon, according to the law-enforcement agency.

Hakobyan strongly denies the accusations, carrying between four and eight years in prison. Her lawyers say she simply wanted to talk to the 23-year-old.

A Yerevan court approved her pre-trial detention on Saturday, May 20, triggering an angry demonstration attended by several dozen other parents of fallen soldiers and hundreds of their sympathizers. The parents announced afterwards a non-stop sit-in outside the prime minister’s office in the city’s central Republic Square.

The protest continued on May 22 as Nikol Pashinyan held a news conference amid tightened security in and around the building.

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The prime minister made it clear that he will not tell his son to withdraw the complaint lodged against Hakobyan because they both believe that “in Armenia all issues must be resolved in a legal way.”

“If there was no crime, let them close the case,” he told a news conference. “If there was a crime, let them finish the investigation and send the case to the court and let the court make a decision.”

Pashinyan did not comment on why Hakobyan has to be kept under arrest pending the outcome of her trial.

He also declined to answer a question from the protesters which was put to him by a reporter. They wanted to know “what you felt when ordering the arrest.”

“Gayane is not guilty and the accusation brought against her is fabricated,” one of the protesting parents told journalists. “I consider her a political prisoner.”

“So his son cannot be told to sit in a car so that we just talk to him and they consider that kidnapping. But who will be held accountable for the deaths of me and Gayane’s sons and the 5,000 other boys?” said another.

Protests in support of Gayane Hakobyan

Armenian opposition leaders and other critics of the government claim that Pashinyan ordered Hakobyan’s arrest in a bid to muzzle the families of deceased soldiers who have staged demonstrations over the past year to demand his prosecution on war-related charges. Several female opposition parliamentarians visited the woman in custody at the weekend.

Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian also condemned the woman’s arrest, saying that it is an “even greater disgrace” than a recent incident during which Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian spat at a heckler in Yerevan. Ter-Petrosian said that the Armenian authorities are only heightening political tensions in the country with their “impudent and short-sighted actions.”

“If things continue like this, a much sadder, if not explosive, prospect awaits our country,” he warned in a statement.

The Armenian Apostolic Church likewise expressed “deep concern” at Hakobyan’s prosecution and called for her release from custody.


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