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Dozens Detained During Yerevan Protests


Armenia -- Police detain student activists in Yerevan, 17 April 2018

At least 80 mostly young people were detained on Tuesday during continuing anti-government protests in Yerevan.

The Armenian police reported the number at 2 p.m. local time, several hours after protesters again started blocking streets in the city center in protest against Serzh Sarkisian, the former president appointed as prime minister.

The wife of opposition leader Nikol Pashinian, the main protest organizer, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that their teenage son Ashot was also taken into custody but set free about three hours later. A police spokesperson denied this, however.

The detainees included about two dozen student activists who were demonstrating jointly early in the morning. They were taken to a police station in the city’s northern Nor Nork district and were kept there as of late afternoon. Two of them, Vahan Kostanian and Davit Petrosian, are well-known activists.

Petrosian’s lawyer, Araks Melkonian, condemned his continuing detention as illegal and arbitrary. “It is aimed at isolating them and decapitating the student movement,” said Melkonian. She said the police are refusing to give any clear explanations.

Petrosian was released from custody and addressed a rally in Yerevan’s central Republic Square in the evening.

Around 30 other youths were kept at the police department of another Yerevan district, Arabkir. Some of them were able to take to social media to complain of a lack of access to lawyers and explanations from law-enforcement officers.

One of their lawyers, Lusine Virabian, said she is not allowed to enter the police station. “Policemen there claim that they lost a key and can’t open the door,” she said.

Throughout the day the police repeatedly warned Pashinian to end his nonstop demonstrations, saying that they are illegal and can be dispersed at any moment. The opposition leader dismissed the warnings.

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