Leaders of the influential Armenian community in France have reportedly urged the authorities in Yerevan to reverse their controversial decision to ban a Diaspora activist highly critical of them from visiting Armenia.
They met with the Armenian ambassador in Paris, Vigen Chitechian, on Monday nearly one month after the French-Armenian activist, Schanth Vosgueritchian, was detained at Yerevan airport and deported back to France.
Armenian Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobian last month cited the National Security Service (NSS) as attributing the deportation to Vosgueritchian’s “actions in France that created problems for the Republic of Armenia.” The NSS subsequently told an Armenian human rights group that he posed a “serious threat to national security and public order.” It did not elaborate.
Vosgueritchian has repeatedly organized anti-government demonstrations outside the Armenian Embassy in Paris. Their participants condemned the alleged rigging of Armenia’s February 2013 presidential election and subsequent imprisonments of anti-government activists in Yerevan. The most recent of those small rallies was staged on April 28 in support of five arrested leaders of the Founding Parliament, a radical Armenian opposition group supported by Vosgueritchian.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) from Paris on Tuesday, Vosgueritchian declined to name the French-Armenian leaders who raised their concerns with Chitechian. “The ambassador showed understanding for their arguments,” he said. “He said that he hadn’t known beforehand that such a thing will happen to me.”
An Armenian diplomatic source confirmed the meeting but did not give any details.
The 57-year-old activist, who leads the French chapter of a Diaspora group called Armenian Renaissance, expressed hope that the “ludicrous” ban will be lifted soon. Or else, he said, he will consider taking legal action against the Armenian authorities. “In any case, I will continue to fight against this regime even more vigorously,” added Vosgueritchian.
Vosgueritchian was travelling to Armenia to take part in an anti-government rally which the Founding Parliament held later in May. The small opposition movement campaigning for regime change has strongly condemned his expulsion.