Dashnak Leader Defends Oppositionists’ ArrestsSource : http://www.azatutyun.am/content/article/26949187.html
Astghik Bedevian եւ Hovannes Movsisian
Հրապարակված է՝ 10.04.2015
A leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Friday effectively justified the arrests of six leading members of another, more radical opposition group that plans to stage sustained anti-government protests in Yerevan.
Armen Rustamian again condemned the Founding Parliament movement for scheduling the start of its campaign for April 24, the day when Armenia will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. He said the planned rallies could help Ankara deflect international attention from the centenary commemorations in Yerevan that will be attended by many foreign dignitaries.
“I have the impression that Zhirayr [Sefilian] and his comrades themselves wanted to be arrested,” Rustamian told a news conference. “It was always clear that all this [Founding Parliament activity] will lead to that and that linking any action with April 24 could meet with a corresponding response from corresponding bodies.”
“Any opposition force has the right to campaign for regime change but there has to be a right time, place and methods for doing that,” he said.
Rustamian, who urged the Armenian authorities to take “preventive” measures against the Founding Parliament last month, suggested that Sefilian and five other oppositionists arrested on Tuesday could be freed after April 24.
Five of the detainees, including Sefilian, stand accused of plotting to trigger “mass disturbances.” In a pre-dawn ruling handed down on Friday, a Yerevan court remanded them in a two-month pretrial custody. Their lawyer, Hayk Grigorian, said that during the court hearing law-enforcement officials failed to present any compelling evidence substantiating what he regards as politically motivated charges.
The sixth detainee, who leads the Founding Parliament’s chapter in Gyumri, has been charged with illegal arms possession. Investigators claim to have found a hand grenade in his home.
Armenia’s Investigative Committee also released on Thursday what it called photographs of a knives and batons confiscated from the suspects’ homes and offices. The law-enforcement body portrayed that as proof of violence planned by the opposition group
Despite disagreeing with the timing of the Founding Parliament’s push for “regime change,” virtually all major Armenian opposition parties except Dashnaktsutyun have described the six men as political prisoners and demanded the immediate release. They argue that the Founding Parliament has never called for violent protests.
“This is definitely a politically motivated case aimed at restricting political rights of Armenia’s citizens,” said Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the Armenian National Congress (HAK). Zurabian claimed that President Serzh Sarkisian personally ordered the arrests.
“Serzh Sarkisian doesn’t issue such orders,” countered Vahram Baghdasarian, his opposite number from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
Baghdasarian did admit, though, that the authorities are anxious to prevent anti-government street protests on April 24. “We just don’t want to see any obstacles during those events,” he said.
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