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Armenian Artist Charged With Administrative Offence, Released From Police Custody (Updated)

UPDATED: Artist Ara Petrosyan detained Thursday morning in front of the residence of the President of Armenia has been released from police custody. In an interview with Epress.am Petrosyan said he refused to sign anything at the station except from the protocol of detention. 

The police, as stated by Petrosyan, implemented administrative detention against him for “showing up in public while being drunk,” (Article 175 of the RA Code on Administrative Offences).

Vardges Gaspari, according to the artist, was not detained; police officers “threw him out of the car” on the way to the station.

14.19: Armenian Police today, at around 11:30 AM, detained Armenian civic activist Vardges Gaspari and artist Ara Petrosyan in front of the residence of the Armenian president; the men, along with the parents of soldiers who died in the Armenian army in non-combat conditions, were demanding to be allowed to walk on the sidewalk in front of the residence; however, law enforcement officers blocked their way. 

The mothers of the deceased soldiers pointed out that they had no posters and were not holding a protest action, but only wanted to walk down the sidewalk, and the officers had no right to block the road. Gaspari and Petrosyan joined the parents, demanding an explanation from the police. Gohar Sargsyan, mother of Tigran Ohanjanyan who died in the army in 2007, alerted the Armenian Ombudsman's Rapid Response group, whose representatives later arrived at the scene. 

The demonstrators tried repeatedly to break through the barrier, and were thrown back by police officers. Vardges Gaspari demanded not to be touched, stated that the law enforcement officers behaved in this way only towards them, and were powerless when it came to Syunik governor Surik Khachatryan and his family members. 

After a long quarrel, the mothers went round the police officers and continued their way through the carriageway. Meanwhile, argument between Gaspari, Petrosyan, and law enforcement officers went on in front the presidential residence. Gaspari lay on the ground in a protest against the police's actions. Petrosyan tried to follow his example; however, the officers did not allow him to. As a result the two men were detained and taken to Arabkir division of the RA Police.