The supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II, condemned late on Sunday a deadly attack on a police station in Yerevan launched by a group of radical anti-government activists.
“Such actions of armed extremism are inexcusable,” Garegin’s office in Echmiadzin said in a statement. “Today, our people’s harmony, solidarity and national unity are vital and imperative for defending our country’s borders and keeping the Armenian statehood strong and secure,” it said.
Accordingly, the statement called on the gunmen occupying the police building and holding several police officers hostage there to “behave reasonably” and “resolve the situation peacefully and avoid further causalities.”
The Armenian police similarly urged the gunmen affiliated with Founding Parliament, a small and radical opposition movement, to surrender themselves earlier in the day. The first deputy chief of the police, Hunan Poghosian, said security forces are ready to attack the building and free the hostages but will avoid doing so for now.
Garegin’s office said he has instructed an Armenian archbishop serving as a “spiritual adviser” to the police to “remain in direct contact with law enforcement, follow developments and report back frequently on the situation.”
Garegin has been generally loyal to the current and previous Armenian governments ever since he was elected Catholicos in 1999.