By Ruzanna Stepanian
Members of the committee in defense of Alexander Arzumanian, an oppositionist arrested on money laundering charges last month, held a demonstration of protest near the government building on Tuesday demanding his immediate release.
They also demanded to see Prime Minster Serzh Sarkisian to hand him a petition addressed to Armenia’s authorities.
Former Vice-Speaker of Parliament Karapet Rubinian, who is among the committee members, told RFE/RL that the petition calls Arzumanian, who served as a foreign minister under the former administration, a political prisoner who “was arrested for his political activities.”
A government staff representative who came out to meet the protestors said in the coming days the prime minister could receive only Arzumanian’s American wife, Melisa Brown.
The letter with a demand for Arzumanian’s release was handed over to the government’s representative.
Arzumanian has been kept at the jail of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) since May 7 on charges of illegally receiving a large amount of money from Levon Markos, a fugitive Russian businessman of Armenian descent. His arrest came two days after NSS officers of searched his Yerevan apartment and confiscated $55,4000 kept there.
Late last month Armenia’s Court of Appeals refused to release Arzumanian from jail pending investigation, thus upholding a lower court’s decision to allow the NSS to keep the outspoken opposition politician under two-month arrest.