An Armenian man extradited from Russia earlier this year went on trial on Monday, accused of involved in an armed revolt allegedly plotted by Zhirayr Sefilian, a radical opposition figure.
The man, Artur Movsisian, pleaded not guilty to the accusations as he appeared before a court in the central Armenian town of Hrazdan.
Sefilian and six other men are standing a separate trial in Yerevan, which began in late May. They were arrested in June 2016 on charges of forming an armed group to seize government buildings and military facilities. Both Sefilian and his Founding Parliament opposition group have denied the charges as politically motivated.
Movsisian was detained in Moscow on an Armenian arrest warrant last November and handed over to law-enforcement authorities in Yerevan six months later. The authorities claim that he was affiliated with Sefilian’s alleged militant group and kept some its weapons and ammunition in his home.
The defendant rejected the accusations, saying that he does not even know Sefilian personally and lived in Russia when the outspoken oppositionist allegedly plotted the revolt. “They are baselessly keeping me [under arrest] and trying to get me to testify against Zhirayr Sefilian,” he said. “It’s not a physical pressure, it’s a psychological one.”
Movsisian’s lawyer, Arayik Papikian, petitioned the court to ensure that his client is tried together with Sefilian and the other arrested men. The presiding judge rejected the demand. But he did grant the lawyer’s request to allow Movsisian’s relatives to visit him in custody.
Sefilian’s arrest came less than one month before three dozen armed men mostly affiliated with Founding Parliament seized a police station in Yerevan. The gunmen demanded that President Serzh Sarkisian free their leader and step down. They surrendered to law-enforcement authorities following a two-week standoff which left three police officers dead.
The two separate trials of the jailed gunmen began earlier this summer.