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Lawyer Claims Tsarukian Arrested ‘Unlawfully’


Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian (archive photo)

Opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian was arrested yesterday on suspicion of organizing a rally in violation of the law, his lawyer Yerem Sargsian wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

Sargsian said Tsarukian’s arrest was “clearly unlawful.” He said the politician was kept for hours at the National Security Service (NSS) to where he had been invited to be questioned as a witness earlier on Wednesday. “For nine hours NSS officers were struggling to find any grounds for Tsarukian’s arrest,” the lawyer claimed.

The party led by Tsarukian was one of 17 opposition forces that took part in a rally demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian over the statement he signed with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Russia to end the war in Nagorno-Karabakh on terms that are largely viewed by Armenia’s opposition as an act of surrender.

Leaders and senior members of other parties participating in the protests were also arrested or summoned for questioning by the NSS on November 11.

Despite the arrest, the loose opposition alliance vowed to continue its anti-government protests and also seek the release of arrested leaders and activists.

Tsarukian’s lawyer said that his client’s arrest was also unlawful because the crime he is suspected to have committed is not considered a heavy crime and is punishable by a fine of up to $600 or imprisonment for up to two months.

Tsarukian is currently under investigation as part of a separate criminal case in which he is charged with organizing a vote-buying scheme in 2017 parliamentary elections.

The BHK leader was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in June and was arrested on September 25. Tsarukian claimed political motives behind his prosecution and arrest. He was freed on bail on October 22.

Later on Thursday, Armenia’s law-enforcement authorities said that Tsarukian was arrested on charges of organizing mass disorders. Several other opposition leaders and activists, including the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (ARF, Dashnaktsutyun) Gegham Manukian and Eduard Sharmazanov of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia are also arrested and charged with organizing mass disorders.

Homeland Party leader Artur Vanetsian is arrested and charged with organizing mass disorders and revealing a state secret. ARF leader Ishkhan Saghatelian is also arrested and charged with revealing a state secret.

All in all, 10 people have been arrested, the authorities said.

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