Home / Video / Police Detain Artists for 4 Hours for Graffiti Portrait of Shant Harutyunyan (VIDEO)

Police Detain Artists for 4 Hours for Graffiti Portrait of Shant Harutyunyan (VIDEO)

Four members of the group Art Laboratoria ("art lab") — Artur and Ara Petrosyan, Karen Ohanyan, and Edgar Amroyan — at around 8 pm on Nov. 10 were picked up by police on Baghramyan Ave. and taken to Arabkir police division. On the walls of the National Assembly, the young men had stencilled the image of Shant Harutyunyan, who was detained during clashes with police in Yerevan on Nov. 5. Part of the graffiti stencil was later erased from the parliament building walls by police. Attorney Inessa Petrosyan, coming out of the police station, said the artists are detained on suspicion of "intentional destruction or damage of property" (Article 185 of the RA Criminal Code) but have not been formally charged. The members of the art group, after being detained for 4 hours, were later released.

Artur Petrosyan spoke with Epress.am about the details of the incident, including police conduct while the men were detained. He said except for the Arabkir division police chief and his deputy, the conduct of the rank-and-file officers was quite appropriate. Petrosyan said they explained to the police that their act was their expression of political protest in defense of political prisoners and that they consider Shant Harutyunyan a political prisoner.

"What was interesting was they kept emphasizing that the [parliament] building belongs to someone. I insisted that it was a public building and we have the right to protest there. An interesting conversation took place. One of them said 'I'm a civil servant' and I said yes, but our state is a republic — that means you are a public servant," he said, pointing out that civil servants serve not the state but the public. He added that before the attorney came, the artists did not testify.

Video in Armenian only.