By Astghik Bedevian
Armenia’s main opposition alliance insisted on Thursday that its supporters used no firearms in the March 1 clashes with security forces that left two police servicemen dead.
Suren Abrahamian, a leading member of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), said the Armenian police themselves are responsible for the death of at least one of those servicemen, Captain Hamlet Tadevosian.
Tadevosian commanded a detachment of Armenian interior troops that clashed with thousands of opposition protesters who barricaded themselves in downtown Yerevan after security forces broke-up their non-stop demonstrations in the city’s Liberty Square. According to state prosecutors, he was killed by a hand grenade thrown at him by one of the protesters.
Abrahamian, himself a retired police general who served as interior minister in 1999, brushed aside the official theory, saying that a combat grenade would have killed more security personnel and left traces on the ground. He argued that forensic experts claimed to have found only three pieces of shrapnel in the dead officer’s body.
According to Abrahamian, Tadevosian was most probably killed by an explosion of a tear gas or stun grenade used by security forces on that day. “His death was the result of an unprofessional, wrong use of special means by the authorities,” he told journalists. “There is no way the protesters could have used combat hand grenades,” he said.
According to the official version of events, tear gas grenades fired from a virtually point-blank range killed three of the eight civilians who lost their lives on March 1. Prosecutor-General reiterated it at a December 25 meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch. Hovsepian claimed that only four policeman fired tear gas during the clashes and that law-enforcement authorities has still not determined which of them caused the three civilian deaths.
None of more than 100 opposition members and supporters arrested following the unrest was charged with murdering Tadevosian and the other police casualty, Tigran Abgarian. The 19-year-old interior troop conscript was shot and fatally wounded in the neck.