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Citizen Against Police: The Consequence of the French President’s Visit to Armenia

The Police demand that the court recognize that citizen Anna Shahnazaryan (pictured) disobeyed a police officer's lawfull order and for her to pay 50,000 AMD in compensation as an administrative fine. Shahnazaryan filed a counter suit against the police, demanding that the court recognize the actions implemented by representatives of the police as violation of her constitutional rights. Shahnazaryan is also asking for financial compensation to cover her legal fees.

Today, the first court hearing took place at the Administrative Court. Police representative Sona Melikyan answered Anna Shahnazaryan’s representative, lawyer Tigran Yegoryan’s questions in court.

Tigran Yegoryan’s assistant Hasmik Petrosyan told Epress.am that during the hearing Melikyan justified the detention of the citizens, stating that it was done to prevent the creation of obstacles for the event taking place at Mashtots Park with the participation of French President François Hollande and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. According to the Police representative, those taken into custody were carrying dangerous tools, for example, tea kettles. The Police representative admitted that Anna Shahnazaryan was holding nothing and was only taken into custody for wishing to cross a no pass zone delineated by police.

While answering the question, as to why the standard protocol at the police station took so long, 3 hours, to write, Melikyan said that “the police had nowhere to hurry.” 

Today's hearing ended with the police representative's testimony; the court decided the next hearing would be convened on April 17th.

The case under review is related to an incident that took place in May of last year when a group of citizens organized a protest during the name-change ceremony of Mashtots Park. The group was against the name change to Missak Manouchian Park. The ceremony was attended by French President François  Hollande and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

The citizens had sent a letter to the the French President before his visit, which stated that the Yerevan City Council had conducted a secret meeting when deciding the name change, while citizens were against the decision because Mashtots Park was considered a symbol of Armenia’s civic movement and there was no need to change the name of the park after Missak Manouchian.