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Court Blocks Arrest Of Anti-Pashinian Mayor


Armenia -- Goris Mayor Arush Arushanian.

An Armenian court refused on Thursday to allow investigators to arrest the mayor of the town of Goris who was prosecuted after calling for civil disobedience against Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

The 29-year-old mayor, Arus Arushanian, was among the heads of more than a dozen communities in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province who issued earlier this month statements condemning Pashinian’s handling of the war with Azerbaijan and demanding his resignation.

Arushanian urged Goris residents late on Sunday to block a regional highway and not allow Pashinian to visit Syunik. He was arrested several hours later for organizing what the Investigative Committee considers an illegal protest. A Yerevan court of first instance ordered the committee to free Arushanian on Tuesday.

Shortly after the order the law-enforcement agency indicted Arushanian on a string of charges, including abuse of power, illegal entrepreneurship and assault. It also requested a court permission to arrest him again.

A Yerevan judge refused to grant such permission. According to Arushanian’s lawyer, Armen Melkonian, the judge found no legal grounds for the mayor’s pre-trial detention.

Melkonian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that his client was again summoned to the Investigative Committee for questioning later on Thursday. Arushanian rejects the accusations as politically motivated.

On Wednesday, the committee indicted and moved to arrest the mayor of another Syunik town who has called for Pashinian’s resignation. Manvel Paramazian, who has run the town of Kajaran since 2016, was charged with kidnapping and assaulting another man in April this year.

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