YEREVAN, July 29 /TASS/. Police stabilized the situation outside a police station, which was seized by armed opposition attackers on July 18, after dispersing an opposition rally held in the assailants’ support.
Police have detained dozens of opposition activists. There is no information about their fate so far. There no casualty reports. Journalists could work freely as police were dispersing the demonstrators.
Police banned rallies and assemblies outside the police unit territory as early as last Tuesday for fear of further escalation of tensions and actions threatening the life and health of people. Police suggested relocating the venue for the rally to a different place to prevent the crowd from bursting into the police unit’s territory and seizing weapons. The opposition forces rallied in a pedestrian zone outside the Yerevan opera theatre for two days. After then, they marched to the seized police unit despite the authorities’ ban.
At dawn, on July 17, about 30 armed attackers connected to Armenia’s radical opposition rammed into the gates of a Yerevan police station driving a Kraz dump truck and opened fire. In the ensuing shootout, a deputy squad commander was killed, with some policemen and attackers suffering injuries. In the chaos that followed, the assailants managed to abduct on-duty cops and top police brass who arrived at the scene for negotiations. Among those taken hostage are two senior police officials, Major General Vartan Yegiazaryan, Armenia’s deputy police chief, and Colonel Valery Osipyan, Yerevan’s deputy police chief.
Radicals demand the release of opposition leader Zhirair Sefilyan and the resignation of the country’s president and government.