An Armenian opposition politician arrested after organizing rallies in support of a deadly attack on a police station in Yerevan has ended a month-long hunger strike, law-enforcement authorities said on Friday.
Andrias Ghukasian, a former presidential candidate, refused food in protest against the Armenian authorities’ refusal to release him from custody pending investigation into “mass disturbances” they say were organized by him and several other opposition figures.
The oppositionist activists led more than 1,000 protesters to Yerevan’s Sari Tagh neighborhood adjacent to the seized police compound late on July 29. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowd after the organizers ignored their warnings to march back to the city center.
Ghukasian and three senior members of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party were formally charged and remanded in pretrial custody on August 2. All of them except Ghukasian were released on bail in the following weeks. The radical oppositionists deny the accusations as politically motivated.
According to a Justice Ministry division running Armenia’s prisons, Ghukasian ended the hunger strike on Friday evening. Its spokesperson told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that he underwent on August 27 blood and tests which ruled out a serious deterioration of his condition.
Ghukasian’s lawyer, Karen Mezhlumian, said on Wednesday that he has again petitioned a district court in Yerevan to grant bail to his client. The court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the appeal on September 8.
Ghukasian was already on a hunger strike for 29 days in the run-up to Armenia’s 2013 presidential election which he contested as a maverick candidate.