Ex-head of Armenian state security service released following charges of plot to assassinate PM
Update, November 15: The court released from custody the ex-head of the National Security Service Artur Vanetsyan, who was arrested the night before on suspicion of ‘plotting the murder of a statesman and conspiracy to usurp power.”
“The decision to detain him was unlawful”, the court ruled.
Vanetsyan went out to the supporters awaiting him at the trial and stated that “he did not commit any crimes, and the authorities by their actions are trying to remove him from the political process.”
On November 15, the charge was brought against the commander of the Sisakan volunteer detachment, Ashot Minasyan, better known as Ashot Yerkat (Iron Ashot).
November 14, 2020
Arthur Vanetsyan, the leader of the Hayrenik [Motherland] opposition party and former head of the National Security Service, has been detained. His lawyers claim a ‘shameful political persecution’ is taking place against the opposition politician.
Artur Vanetsyan was detained on suspicion of “plotting an assassination of a statesman and conspiracy to usurp power.”
Lawyers Lusine Sahakyan and Yervand Varosyan posted a Facebook statement which says:
“Our imaginative government, which is only capable of ‘creativity’ in suppressing political opponents within the country, has given birth to accusations of usurpation of power and preparation of an assassination of Nikol Pashinyan. It is no longer possible to comment on all this from a legal point of view.”
Lawyers also report that law enforcement agencies have searched Vanetsyan’s parents’ apartment and the office of his party. Moreover, illegally without a search warrant.
The investigators haven’t searched Vanetsyan’s own apartment since they have been unable to identify the correct address.
According to his lawyers, the events speak of the country leadership’s intention “to retain power at any cost, to carry out anti-state programmes and to surrender the homeland to the enemy.”
Why lawyers claim political persecution
Vanetsyan’s party is part of a coalition of 17 opposition political forces that are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his government. They made this demand on November 9, the day before the prime minister signed a trilateral truce on Karabakh with Azerbaijan and Russia.
Following the signing of the document, which was regarded in Armenia as a treacherous conspiracy and voluntary surrender of Karabakh to Azerbaijan, the opposition went on to make harsher statements. Apart from resignation, they now demanded the denunciation of the document signed by Pashinyan.
Since November 11, opposition parties have held street protests, despite the fact they are prohibited by the martial law which remains in effect in Armenia.
A total of 14 opposition parties were detained for ‘organizing and holding rallies’. However, by midnight on November 12, most of them had been released, including Artur Vanetsyan. The court ruled their detention unlawful.