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Armenia’s arts professionals ask opposition activist to influence hostage-takers

July 20, 2016, 20:59 UTC+3 YEREVAN

Armenian actors, musicians and composers have appealed to the arrested opposition activist

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YEREVAN, July 20. /TASS/. Armenian actors, musicians and composers have appealed to the arrested opposition activist, Zhirair Sefilyan to exert influence on gunmen and get them to release hostages and to surrender to the police, the arts professionals said in a statement released on Wednesday.

On Sunday morning, Sefilyan’s supporters attacked and seized a police regiment in the Armenian capital of Yerevan and have been still holding hostages. A police colonel was killed in the attack and some more police officers were wounded. The attackers demand from the authorities to set free their 49-year-old leader, who has been under arrest since June on charges of organizing an armed group that had been preparing the seizure of the Yerevan television center and other important facilities along with organizing illegal acquisition, transportation and storage of firearms and ammunition.

"Believing in your intelligence and patriotism, we are certain that employing your common sense and reasoning, you will interfere into this irresponsible and hopeless situation, will prevent further undesirable consequences and will appeal to your comrades to lay down their arms and surrender to the police," the statement says.

Born in Lebanon, Sefilyan arrived in Armenia in early 1990s as an instructor organizing self-defense units in Nagorno-Karabakh. Later, he fought in the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict, became the commander of a battalion and was awarded the Military Cross First Class medal. Afterwards, he established the radical opposition organization Founding Parliament, a staunch critic of Armenia’s authorities and their policies.

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