Several civil society groups today held a march in support of imprisoned political activist Shant Harutyunyan and fellow detainees, considered political prisoners by supporters. Speeches were held at Liberty Square prior to the start of the march. In particular, head of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly – Vanadzor Office, Artur Sakunts, stated that he believes revenge is being sought on Shant Harutyunyan, since he was fighting against the "colonization" of Armenia — that is, the country's accession to the Russian-led Customs Union. The human rights activist also spoke about the discrimination experienced by political prisoners, particularly the ban on calls and family visits.
Also attending the rally was Heritage Party leader Raffi Hovannisian, who, in conversation with journalists, said that Shant Harutyunyan and his friends were politically persecuted for fighting for the homeland, and they must be released immediately.
During the march, some activists held signs that read "End to the regime that betrayed the nation," "Armenia without political prisoners," and "We are against the Customs Union," among others, while others waved Armenian flags and flags symbolizing anarchy. Marchers chanting "Freedom to Shant!", "Sovereign Armenia!" and "Armenia without [Armenian President Serzh [Sargsyan]" moved toward the Government of Armenia building, where they came across RA Minister of Justice Hrayr Tovmasyan, who was entering his car at the time. Demonstrators shouted, "Shame! Shame!" The minister stopped his car and came out to talk to reporters.
The justice minister said that for him Shant Harutyunyan is a prisoner, and it doesn't matter why he is in prison, he (Tovmasyan) is responsible for Harutyunyan's health. During this time, demonstrators were chanting, "Fuck off" and "Shame!"
Protestors then marched toward the RA General Prosecutor's Office, then to Nalbandyan Street. At the intersection of Tumanyan and Nalbandyan streets, police officers didn't permit demonstrators to keep going to the National Security Service (former KGB) and police building, and pushed them towards Tumanyan Street. Demonstrators, however, managed to break through the chain of police officers and walk by the NSS building.