The criminal case brought last June against participants in nonstop demonstrations in central Yerevan has been reopened, it emerged on Monday.
The Prosecutor-General’s Office confirmed to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that the prosecutor who supervised the case revoked the decision of the Investigative Committee to dismiss the case instituted on the hallmarks of “hooliganism” and gave instructions to continue the investigation.
The criminal case was originally brought over allegations that “a group of persons” were disturbing public peace and order by blocking Baghramian Avenue in the Armenian capital “for a durable period of time”.
The protests there that began on June 22 and lasted for two weeks were aimed against the decision by the authorities to raise electricity prices and were dubbed ‘Electric Yerevan’.
Later, the Investigative Committee saw no criminal deeds in the actions of the protesters.
However, according to the Prosecutor-General’s Office, by the decision of September 25 it was instructed to find the “hooligans”. The supervising prosecutor explained that no “fair examination” of the case was ensured.
Daniel Ioannisian, head of the Informed Citizens Association who, during the past several months, filed more than 100 inquiries to try to find out the details of what happened during those demonstrations, describes this situation as ridiculous.
“On the morning of June 23, the police took 237 persons to police stations, arguing that all of them had been caught while committing or immediately after committing the crime of hooliganism. Thereafter, the Investigative Committee dismissed the hooliganism case due to the absence of crime. It turns out that the police had mass hallucinations and saw hooliganism in the actions of 237 persons whereas no act of hooliganism took place. Then, the prosecutor’s office comes to save the image of the police, and the criminal case gets reopened,” Ioannisian commented.
Civil activists and analysts see political implications behind the decision to reopen the cases, connecting it with the movement that has started against the planned constitutional changes.
“Apparently, the Prosecutor’s Office, together with the regime, has decided to use some preventive intimidation so that the protesters with their foolish minds behave themselves,” human rights activist Levon Barseghian, who recently joined the “No” campaign against constitutional amendments, said.
Analyst Argishty Kivirian, who has also actively participated in all actions and has repeatedly been taken to police stations in the past, believes that the task of keeping the protesters off the street has been set to the law-enforcement agencies.
“The authorities do not want to see protest actions. They want to have the [new] Constitution approved in a calm atmosphere. Any action that will be directed against the government will reveal that the authorities are rigging the vote, and it’s obvious. That’s why they try to actively suppress these young people one way or another, trying to keep them in suspense,” Kivirian said.