Dashnaktsutyun Condemns Raids and Arrests of Activists Amid Antigovernment Protests

Dashnaktsutyun Condemns Raids and Arrests of Activists Amid Antigovernment Protests

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a major opposition party involved in ongoing antigovernment protests, reported on Friday that security forces raided its offices in the southeastern Vayots Dzor province and detained a dozen local activists.

Dashnaktsutyun’s governing body in Armenia stated that the activists were rounded up early in the morning on allegations of paying people to participate in the protests in Yerevan led by Archbishop Bagrat Galstanian. The party denounced these accusations as “completely false and despicable,” condemning the arrests as a “large-scale attack” on the pan-Armenian party.

Ishkhan Saghatelian, the head of the governing body, told reporters that the accusations were based on wiretapped phone conversations posted on a website controlled by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party. He asserted that the “illegal” recordings do not prove anything, even if they are genuine and unaltered by the authorities.

“We are prepared for any scenario,” Saghatelian said, adding that the party will continue to fight for the ouster of Pashinyan’s “pro-Turkish regime.”

Gegham Manukian, a parliament deputy from Dashnaktsutyun, reported that law-enforcement officers searched the party’s offices in the provincial towns of Yeghegnadzor and Vayk, confiscating computers.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service from Yeghegnadzor, Manukian said that he and another Dashnaktsutyun lawmaker have been trying in vain to visit the detainees and obtain an official explanation for their arrests from the Vayots Dzor division of Armenia’s Investigative Committee.

The law-enforcement agency stated later in the day that it would not comment “in the interests of the investigation.”

A key member of the main opposition Hayastan alliance, Dashnaktsutyun has been at the forefront of Archbishop Galstanian’s demonstrations aimed at forcing Pashinyan to resign. Riot police allegedly tried to enter the party’s Yerevan headquarters during one of the protests staged on May 27.

Several policemen were caught on camera punching, kicking, and swearing at another Dashnaktsutyun lawmaker, Ashot Simonian, outside the headquarters. One officer was suspended as a result, but neither he nor any other officer faced prosecution for the violent conduct.