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Another Anti-Pashinian Mayor Avoids Arrest


Armenia - Kajaran Mayor Manvel Paramazian.

An Armenian court blocked on Friday the arrest of another town mayor who has demanded Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation and backed protests against his rule.

Armenia’s Investigative Committee asked the court on Wednesday to remand Manvel Paramazian in pre-trial custody immediately after charging him with kidnapping and beating up another man in April this year.

Paramazian denies the charges. His lawyer, Yervand Varosian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the court found no legal grounds to allow his arrest.

Paramazian has run Kajaran, an industrial town in southeastern Syunik province, since 2016. He was among the heads of more than a dozen provincial communities who issued earlier this month statements condemning Pashinian’s handling of the war with Azerbaijan and demanding his resignation. They accused him of putting Syunik’s security at grave risk with Armenian troop withdrawals completed over the weekend.

The mayors encouraged hundreds of local residents who blocked a regional highway to disrupt Pashinian’s visit to Syunik on Monday. One of the mayors, Arush Arushanian, was detained hours before the protest.

A Yerevan court ordered the Investigative Committee to free Arushanian on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, the law-enforcement agency leveled a string of criminal charges against the 29-year-old mayor of the town of Goris and demanded a court permission to arrest him again. The court rejected the demand on Thursday.

Paramazian and Arushanian have led some of the government-backed local militias that were set up in October to defend Syunik against advancing Azerbaijani troops.

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