An Armenian opposition activist was released from custody on Wednesday almost one year after being arrested during a demonstration held in support of anti-government gunmen occupying a police station in Yerevan.
The activist, Davit Hovannisian, was among the protesters who marched to the Sari Tagh neighborhood overlooking the seized station late on July 29. Riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse them after they refused to march back to the city center.
Dozens of people were seriously injured in the crackdown criticized by human rights groups. The police also arrested and prosecuted several radical opposition leaders and activists.
Hovannisian was charged with throwing stones at security forces during the Sari Tagh violence. The accusations, strongly denied by him, are based on testimony given by two police officers.
Armenia’s Court of Appeals agreed to release Hovannisian on bail pending trial. The activist affiliated with the Votki Hayastan (Rise Up Armenia) movement insisted on his innocence after he walked free in the courtroom.
By contrast, the court again refused to order the release of Andrias Ghukasian, a Votki Hayastan leader who was arrested on charges of provoking the “mass disturbances” in Sari Tagh.
Earlier this year, Armenian law-enforcement authorities levelled new and more serious criminal charges against Ghukasian. They claimed that he organized the Sari Tagh demonstration to try to break through a police cordon and join the gunmen demanding regime change. Ghukasian’s lawyer, Karen Mejlumian, insisted on Wednesday that the accusations are baseless.