The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia has begun criminal proceedings against the Justice Bloc, a coalition of political parties that oppose the current government regime.
Bazeyan says oppostion won't be stopped by criminal proceedings.
Over the past several weeks, oppositional parties have been rallying support and calling for a change of power. Now, those actions are being called illegal, and a threat to internal stability.
On Wednesday, Minister of Defense Serzh Sargsyan told reporters: “If someone delivers ultimatums to authorities, if someone openly says there will be bloodshed, then I think law-enforcement bodies have things to do.”
Later the same day the government announced its intention to prosecute, on grounds that the Ardarutiun (Justice) Bloc’s activity amounts to calling for an overthrow of the government by force and violates Paragraph 301 of the republic’s Criminal Code and its paragraph prohibiting insult of authorities.
“By organizing mainly unsanctioned demonstrations in different regions of the republic and in communities of Yerevan and by insulting representatives of authorities in public, since February, 2004, representatives of Ardarutuin bloc and people acceding to them have been calling for seizing state power by force and changing the constitutional order of the Republic of Armenia,” the Prosecutor’s statement read.
Yesterday (April 1), political elite from Justice bloc held a press conference led by former oppositional presidential candidate Stepan Demirchyan in which it restated its intentions to “carry out change of power as peacefully and without disruptions as possible”.
The bloc is unhappy that a constitutionally-approved Referendum of Confidence was not held and says the referendum was the government’s chance for peaceful resolution, a means of replacing leaders who the opposition calls “illegitimate”.
Opposition leader Albert Bazeyan says even criminal proceedings will not deter the bloc’s intentions.
“Let those who talk about law and order, first look for law and order in their actions and let them account for October 27,” Bazeyan said. The oppositon continues to accuse the President, Minister of Defense and Chief Prosecutor General of a failure of security that lead to terrorists assassinating seven government leaders in Parliament on October 27, 1999.
Bazeyan dsimissed the decision of the Prosecutor’s Office as an April 1 joke. No one is laughing, however, as, according to opposition reports, the head of the Talin region’s Republic party Zhora Sapeyan became the first oppositional figure arrested yesterday. (The General Prosecutors Office told ArmeniaNow it has no information about the matter.)
Even relatives of oppositional leaders are being investigated. Authorities have searched Bazeyan's brother’s apartment and have called his nephew for questioning.
“It's a good sign. Criminal charges were brought against the Karabakh Committee and as a result we came to power,” says oppositional member Vazgen Manukyan. “The same was after events of 1996. It is a regularity in Armenia. Being arrested leads to power.”
At yesterday’s press conference oppostion leaders again refused to name the date when they expect mass to stage mass demonstrations which they believe will lead to a change of government.