Former President Robert Kocharian’s younger son, Levon Kocharian, arrested during recent anti-government protests in Yerevan was released from custody on Monday after taking up a vacant parliament seat reserved for the main opposition Hayastan alliance.
Levon Kocharian was dragged away by riot police on September 22 as thousands of protesters demanded Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s resignation following the Azerbaijani military offensive that restored Baku’s control over Nagorno-Karabakh and forced its ethnic Armenian residents to flee to Armenia.
He is among the more than four dozen Armenians accused of assaulting police officers or throwing various objects at them during the largely peaceful demonstrations. Most of them remain in custody, facing what they and the Armenian opposition call politically motivated charges.
Levon Kocharian. also strongly denies the accusations leveled against him. He maintains that he himself was beaten up by several officers inside a police car. Although their violent actions were caught on camera, Armenian courts have refused to free him pending investigation.
Hayastan, which is headed by Robert Kocharian. Like his father, Levon Kocharian was on its list of candidates in the 2021 general elections.
Armen Charchian, a parliament deputy representing the opposition bloc, resigned from the National Assembly late last month. Three other Hayastan members who were next in line to succeed Charchian refused to take up his seat, giving different reasons.
With Armenian law stipulating that a parliamentarian cannot be charged and arrested without the parliament’s consent, investigators had no choice but to free him for now. The Office of the Prosecutor-General declined to clarify whether it will request such permission.
Levon Kocharian insisted that the criminal case against him is “nonsense” when he spoke to journalists outside Yerevan’s Nubarashen prison. He called for the immediate release of the other protesters regarded by Hayastan and some human rights activists as political prisoners.
“I am one of them and hope that they too will be free soon,” he said.
Four of them, including a 16-year-old boy, were arrested just over a week ago. They all are natives of Karabakh who took refuge in Armenia following the 2020 war.