A former senior investigator wanted in Armenia as part of a probe into the 2008 crackdown on the opposition has been released after a brief arrest in Russia, his lawyer Mihran Poghosian said.
On Sunday, the Armenian prosecutor-general’s adviser Gor Abrahamian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that Vahagn Harutiunian had been arrested by the Russian police that informed Armenian law-enforcement agencies about this.
The official added that Armenia planned to initiate a process for Harutiunian’s extradition soon.
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.