Fourteen opposition activists were detained in Yerevan on Thursday as they scuffled with riot police while demanding the immediate release of a fellow member of an Armenian opposition grouping arrested in January.
The New Armenia Public Salvation Front has staged a series of street protests in recent days against Gevorg Safarian’s pre-trial detention condemned as politically motivated by human rights organizations.
More than a dozen women affiliated with the radical opposition movement picketed the main entrance to the Armenian police headquarters on Wednesday. Safarian stands accused of assaulting a police officer on New Year’s night.
The police used force against a similar number of New Armenia protesters on Thursday after they chained themselves to the ground on the city’s central Mashtots Avenue.One of the protesters, Ruzanna Yegnukian, was injured in the head and hospitalized as a result.
Her husband and a senior New Armenia figure, Garo Yegnukian, was among the protesters detained on the spot. He was quickly released from police custody in order to visit his wife treated at Yerevan’s Surp Grigor Lusavorich hospital.
Yegnukian said there that he believes she was kicked in the head by a policeman. But Valeri Osipian, a deputy chief of Yerevan’s police department, denied that.
“They nailed the chains tied around them to the ground,” Osipian told reporters. “When the police officers moved to unblock the street participants of the protest jostled each other and got injuries.”
New Armenia condemned the “illegal” police in a statement released later in the day.