Armenia’s Investigative Committee said on Thursday that the two arrested members and one supporter of Dashnaktsutyun are suspected of paying residents of southern Ararat province to attend anti-government rallies staged by the country’s leading opposition groups last spring and summer. It claimed that investigators found evidence of that during the searches conducted in several oppositionists’ homes.
One of them, Simon Simonian, heads Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia. He said the criminal case is “fabricated” and part of the Armenian government’s “political persecution” of a major opposition force.
Dashnaktsutyun’s leadership also alleged such prosecution when it reacted to the arrests on Wednesday.
“The Armenian government has started a new cycle of diverting the public's attention from its anti-national programs and continuing the illegal persecution of those fighting against them,” it charged in a statement.
“It is impossible to hold back Dashnaktsutyun from the struggle with such steps,” it said.
Dashnaktsutyun is a key member of the main opposition Hayastan alliance headed by former President Robert Kocharian. It was at the forefront of last year’s demonstrations organized in Yerevan by Hayastan and another opposition bloc.
The daily protests were sparked by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s calls for an unpopular peace deal with Azerbaijan.