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Armenia’s Former Top Investigator Arrested In Russia, Official Says


Vahagn Harutiunian, former head of the investigative group on 2008 post-election events

A former senior investigator wanted in Armenia as part of a probe into the 2008 crackdown on the opposition has been arrested in Russia, according to the Armenian prosecutor-general’s adviser.

Gor Abrahamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Sunday that the information on Vahagn Harutiunian had been reported to the Armenian police by their Russian colleagues.

The official added that Armenia will soon initiate a process for Harutiunian’s extradition. No other details are reported yet.

Harutiunian resigned as deputy chief of Armenia’s Special Investigation Service (SIS) and left for Russia, ostensibly for medical treatment, in July 2018, three months after Armenia’s “Velvet Revolution.”

He was first accused of forging factual evidence to cover up the Armenian army’s alleged involvement in the post-election violence. Later, the SIS also charged him with two counts of abuse of power also stemming from the long-running probe of the 2008 unrest.

Harutiunian rejects all accusations leveled against him as baseless and illegal.

Eight protesters and two police servicemen died in Yerevan on March 1-2, 2008 as security forces broke up opposition demonstrations against alleged fraud in the February 2008 presidential election.

The former Armenian authorities accused the opposition of organizing the “mass disturbances” in a bid to seize power. They jailed dozens of opposition figures, including the country’s current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, on corresponding charges.

The SIS radically changed the official version of events shortly after the 2018 revolution which brought Pashinian to power. It charged former President Robert Kocharian and three retired army generals with illegally using the Armenian armed forces against the protesters. Kocharian was taken into custody. All four men, whose trial began last year, deny the accusations.

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