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Relatives Not Allowed to Visit Hospitalized Protesters; Law Enforcement Officers Given Free Passage to ICU

Family members of the dozens of protesters who were admitted to Yerevan’s Surb Grigor Lusavorich hospital with police-inflicted injuries last night have been barred from visiting their relatives at the hospital’s intensive care unit; meanwhile, investigators and law enforcement officers are free to come and go as they please, as witnessed by an Epress.am correspondent today.

“Last night they wouldn’t let us leave, now they won’t let us in,” a middle-aged woman complained to our reporter, adding that she had nothing to do with “your events” and only wanted to enter the unit to take care of her father.

As many as 50 people were rushed here late on Friday with severe burns, broken bones and damaged eyes after Armenia’s riot police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse a crowd of supporters of a radical armed group occupying a Yerevan police station for nearly two weeks. A total of 60 protesters were taken to 5 hospitals in the city; more than a hundred people were detained. 

In response to our correspondent’s question as to why representatives of law enforcement agencies were allowed to enter the intensive care unit without even having to wear a protective gown or some other covering, the deputy director of the hospital, MD Gagik Manukyan insisted that they were “on duty.”

“[They are here] to enforce law and order. I’m a doctor; I’m not going to fight anyone and tell them to let us do our job,” Manukyan said.

As investigators were questioning the patients, our reporter tried to find out from them whether the injured were being questioned as victims or as witnesses. They, however, refused to answer, saying that “we are only an investigative group; you should contact the Investigative Committee.”

The Committee did subsequently issue a statement to report that 23 people, among them opposition politicians with the Heritage party Andrias Khukasyan and Armen Martirosyan, were arrested as part of an investigation under parts 1 and 2 of Article 225 of Armenia’s Criminal Code (“organization of mass disorder, accompanied with violence, pogroms, arson, destruction or damage to property, using fire-arms, explosives or explosive devices, or by armed resistance to the representative of the authorities.”)

In addition to questioning the injured, investigators were also collecting the protesters' clothes “as material evidence.” Anahit Piloyan, a 28-year-old protester with burns on her legs and arms, however, refused to give away her clothes.

“That’s because she does not trust the investigators,” her father, Samvel Piloyan, told us. He added that he had come to take his daughter home but law enforcement officers were not allowing him to.