Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian and his allies resorted to a mass hypnosis of the population and other “psychological tricks” to muster popular support for their bid to topple Armenia’s leadership, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian said on Friday.
He indicated that the allegation could be part of the Armenian authorities’ coup case against the opposition presidential candidate that has already resulted in scores of arrests.
“All along they carried out a psychological sabotage against the segment of the people who went to their rallies and who were supposed to be the instruments of the entire criminal act,” Hovsepian told a news conference. “During the psychological sabotage they used all kinds of psychological tricks, mechanisms of deception.”
The powerful prosecutor said the ongoing investigation into the post-election deadly unrest in Armenia will therefore be conducted not only by law-enforcement officials but also psychologists and psychotherapists.
Ter-Petrosian was thought to be highly unpopular when he ended his decade-long political retirement and announced his participation in the February 19 presidential election last September. Despite a hostile coverage of his political activities by the government-controlled media, he quickly attracted a substantial following and emerged as Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s main election challenger with his harsh attacks on the government.
According to the Central Election Commission, Ter-Petrosian won 21.5 percent of the vote, trailing only Sarkisian, the official election winner. The ex-president has rejected the official vote results as fraudulent and rallied tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan to demand a re-run of the ballot.
In Hovsepian’s words, the more than 350,000 votes which the CEC says were cast for Ter-Petrosian were primarily the result of a “mass psychosis” created by the opposition leader and his entourage. He claimed that was part of their broader coup plot foiled by the Armenian authorities.
The powerful prosecutor said a total of 68 opposition leaders and activists have been arrested or detained and about 350 others questioned as part of the ongoing inquiry. He said 52 of them have already been formally charged with seeking to “usurp power,” organizing or participating in “mass disorders” and assaulting law-enforcement officers. The accusations stem from Saturday’s clashes in Yerevan between security forces and thousands of Ter-Petrosian supporters.
According to the Armenian police, as many as 407 people were detained during and after the unrest that left at least eight people dead. A police statement on Thursday said the vast majority of them were set free.
Some of the released oppositionists have already gone public with harrowing accounts of torture at the hands of police officers. The Ter-Petrosian camp says at least 98 of its supporters remained under arrest as of late Thursday. Dozens of others are believed to be on the run.
Hovsepian again indicated that Ter-Petrosian too may end up behind bars soon. He said testimony given by detainees proves that all opposition actions were “managed from one center.”
Hovsepian also said that all of the detainees will go on trial soon. “I have made a decision to finish those cases very quickly and send them to the court,” he told reporters. “We have no intention to keep them in our coffer. Very soon you will be witnessing the presentation and discussion of that evidence during court sessions.”
(Photolur photo: Young Ter-Petrosian supporters dance in Yerevan’s Liberty Square.)