Artur Vanetsyan, former intelligence chief and head of Homeland Party, arrested and accused of preparing to kill Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, says his lawyer.
An opposition leader in Armenia has been arrested and accused of preparing to kill the prime minister, adding to the political turmoil created by a ceasefire deal with neighbouring Azerbaijan.
Artur Vanetsyan, head of the centre-right Homeland Party, was arrested on Saturday after being summoned to the headquarters of the Armenian security forces, his lawyers Lusine Sahakyan and Ervand Varosyan said.
They called the detention a “persecution” and denied the allegations against their client – that he was preparing to seize power after the murder of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Pashinyan has faced violent street protests and fierce criticism from Armenia’s political opposition since he signed a ceasefire deal with Azerbaijan to end fighting over the occupied Karabakh which erupted in September.
2,000 Russian troops deployed
Armenia faced heavy losses by technologically superior Azerbaijani troops and Pashinyan agreed to cede large parts of the area to Azerbaijan in order to bring an end to the hostilities.
The ceasefire halted military action in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians.
Under the agreement, 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are being deployed to the region.
Another unnamed man arrested
Vanetsyan, a former boss of Armenia’s security services known for his links to Russia, was also briefly detained last week along with other senior opposition figures during anti-government protests which saw the prime minister called a “traitor”.
Armenian security services announced the arrest late on Saturday of another unnamed man “with anti-government views” who was allegedly found in possession of a “large number of weapons.”
He was preparing “an assassination attempt against a public figure and the seizure of power” in step with “politicians with anti-government views and their supporters.”
Decades of occupation
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory recognised as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
Armenia has repeatedly attacked Azerbaijani civilians and forces, even violating three humanitarian ceasefire agreements.
In total, about 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory has been under illegal Armenian occupation for nearly three decades.
Source: TRTWorld and agencies