The angry mobs broke into Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s office and residence and the Armenian parliament and severely beat up parliament speaker Ararat Mirzoyan in protest against the ceasefire agreement which they said amounted to Armenia’s capitulation in the six-week war with Azerbaijan.
Several dozen men also attacked RFE/RL’s Yerevan bureau, branding its employees “traitors” and “Turks” and attempting to assault some of them.
In a statement, the National Security Service (NSS) said it has identified more than 70 organizers and participants of the riots and arrested 15 of them. The detainees and more than two dozen other persons have been indicted on relevant charges, it said, adding that law-enforcement authorities are now trying to track down the other rioters.
The NSS also said that supporters of some opposition politicians played an “active role” in the violence. It did not name them.
Pashinian’s press secretary, Mane Gevorgian, publicized on Tuesday security camera footage of the ransacking of the prime minister’s office. It shows that several young supporters of former Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Robert Kocharian as well as two sons-in-law of Gagik Tsarukian, the leader of the opposition Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), and the head of the BHK’s youth wing were among the men that illegally entered the main government building.
Pro-government lawmakers seized upon the video to accuse the BHK of involvement in the unrest. Their BHK colleagues angrily denied that during a heated session of the National Assembly.
One of Tsarukian’s sons-in-law, Davit Manukian, is a parliament deputy while the other, Karapet Guloyan, used to work as a provincial governor.
Manukian confirmed on Tuesday that he and Guloyan went into the building. He insisted, however, they did not smash any furniture there and on the contrary tried to stop the violence.