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Karabakh Activist Freed Despite Coup Charge


Armenia - Vahan Badasian talks to journalists at the Yerablur Military Pantheon in Yerevan, January 28, 2021

A prominent Nagorno-Karabakh politician and war veteran was released late on Wednesday two weeks after being arrested on charges of calling for a violent overthrow of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

Vahan Badasian branded Pashinian an “enemy” of the nation and blamed the latter for the Armenian side’s defeat in the autumn war with Azerbaijan when he spoke with journalists at Yerevan’s Yerablur military cemetery on January 28. He said Pashinian will be removed from power “physically” and through an armed revolt if he keeps refusing to step down.

Badasian was arrested a few hours later. A Yerevan court remanded him in pre-trial custody on charges of publicly advocating a violent regime change.

A prosecutor overseeing the criminal investigation said on Wednesday that Badasian will be set free for now because he realized the illegal character of his statement.

Badasian seemed unrepentant and described the charges leveled against him as “ridiculous” on Thursday.

His lawyer, Arayik Papikian, insisted that the charges are politically motivated and his client never called for a violent overthrow of the constitutional order.” “He did not and does not intend to take any illegal actions,” Papikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Badasian, who leads a small party not represented in Karabakh’s parliament, lived in the southern Karabakh town of Hadrut occupied by Azerbaijani forces during the recent war. He took part in the six-week war and was wounded in action.

Armenian opposition groups have also condemned Pashinian’s handling of the war and demanded his resignation. The prime minister has rejected their demands.

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