The 15-year-old son of an opposition activist arrested during a violent anti-government protest in Yerevan last November was also charged in connection with that incident on Wednesday, risking up to 7 years in prison.
The Armenian police pressed hooliganism charges against Shahen Harutiunian after summoning him for fresh questioning.
The boy stands accused of hitting a police officer with a megaphone during the protest led by his father, Shant Harutiunian. The latter is being kept under pre-trial arrest along with 12 other men charged under the same article of the Armenian Criminal Code. They faced more serious accusations until this week.
Shahen, who avoided pre-trial detention apparently because of his young age, flatly denied the accusation, saying that he himself was beaten up and verbally abused by riot police. “We planned on staging a peaceful march but it was disrupted by a police provocation,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) after coming out of a police building in Yerevan.
“They have charged me in order to be able to put pressure on my father,” the teenager claimed.
Shahen’s mother, Ruzan Badalian, also insisted that he is innocent. “He never took any illegal actions,” she said. “The authorities are doing everything to put pressure on Shant. Apparently they can do that only through his son.”
Shant Harutiunian, who is a well-known nationalist figure, was confronted by riot police as he led several dozen protesters armed with sticks and homemade stun grenades. They tried to march towards the presidential administration building in what Harutiunian called an anti-government “revolution.”