The chief of the Armenian police, Vladimir Gasparian, on Thursday denied allegations that he personally assaulted two of the anti-government protesters arrested after this week’s violent clashes with riot police in Yerevan.
Nikol Pashinian, an opposition parliamentarian, reported the allegations after meeting on Wednesday evening with the 20 people currently kept under arrest. He said that Shant Harutiunian, a controversial opposition figure who led the protest, and another activist, Vartan Vartanian, told him that they were beaten up in police custody by Gasparian and his first deputy, Hunan Poghosian. Pashinian said Harutiunian alleged that the police chief also threatened and swore at his teenage son who was also detained during the clashes.
Pashinian demanded an official investigation into the torture allegations in a letter sent on Thursday to the Special Investigative Service, a law-enforcement agency subordinate to Armenian prosecutors.
Gasparian brushed aside the allegations as he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), “There was and there could have been no such thing,” he said.
“What do you think would have happened if the police chief had done such a thing? Would anything have been left of Shant?” declared the police chief.
A separate written statement released by the Armenian police also denied the abuse claims as “disinformation.”
The 20 protesters remaining in detention are facing criminal proceedings launched under Criminal Code articles dealing with resistance to state officials and damage to public property. The police have yet to announce whether they will be formally charged.