YEREVAN—Armenia’s Chief of Police Vladimir Gasparyan announced the dismissal of two chiefs of local police departments in the aftermath of a two-week standoff during which a group calling itself the “Daredevils of Sasoun” seized a police compound in Erebuni and made political demands, including the resignation of President Serzh Sarkisian.
Gasparyan announced that Gevorg Hakopyan the head of the Erebuni Police Department, was fired. The seized compound was under Hakopyan’s purview.
Police spokesman Ashot Aharonyan told Armenpress that Grigor Amirkhanyan was appointed as the new Chief of Erebuni Police Department.
Gasparyan also announced the dismissal of the Manvel Davtyan the chief of the Baghramyan police department. Baghramyan Street was the scene of mass protests last year over the electricity price increases.
Baghramyan Street, the site of Armenia’s Constitutional Court Building and the Presidential Palace became a focal point of mass rallies on Saturday, when a protester attempted to set himself on fire. The 58-year-old Kajik Grigoryan died on Tuesday from infections sustained as a result of the self-immolation
A police statement issue on Wednesday also said that Gasparyan has ordered an investigation into what he called “civilians” who instigated attacks on journalists during protests in Yerevan’s Sari Tagh district during which dozens of people were injured, among them journalists covering the protests.
Journalists interviewed after the incident said that they were attacked by plain-clothed police who, they said, had infiltrated the crowd and some emerged from the police barricades around the protesters.
On Monday, President Sarkisian, in an speech addressing the two-week standoff apologized to journalists and urged them to “forget about” the attacks on them, pledging that in the future such violence would not be targeting against the press.
Also on Wednesday, Armenia’s Special Investigative Service, a special group that is tasked with investigating both the police compound seizure, as well as the attacks on civilians and reporters, said that it was investigating police misconduct by several officers between the period of July 20 and 30.
The SIS said that it was pursuing police misconduct cases based on several reports by citizens and attorneys who alleged violence, arrests and brutal force against protesters and journalists. The service has asked for individuals to step forward with information and evidence to advance the body’s investigation.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the SIS, Lt. General Vahram Shahinyan met on Wednesday with Associate Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch Jane Buchanan and Director for South Caucasus Giorgi Gogia.
The HRW, an international human rights watchdog group, had criticized the Armenian authorities for excessive use of force against citizens and journalist and had condemned those attacks.
Shahinyan assured the HRW representatives that Armenia’s authorities had launched a thorough investigation into the incidents, adding that several arrests had already been made in connection with the events of the last two weeks.
Buchanan and Gogia expressed their desire to actively cooperate with the SIS on the said investigations.