YEREVAN (A.W.)—Clashes broke out between demonstrators and Armenian police over the weekend, as protests following the death of the “the bringer of bread” Artur Sargsyan continued.
Over a 1,000 people gathered in downtown Yerevan on multiple occasions throughout the weekend to demand the proper investigation of Sargsyan’s death, according to several reports.
On March 19, protesters marched towards the government building, where they initially sat on the street and attempted to close it. There, they were met with police officers, who forcefully attempted to remove the demonstrators. This resulted in a series of clashes near Nalbandian Street and the protesters were eventually removed.
On March 18, protesters handed over a letter to the government demanding that Sargsyan be buried at Yerablur military pantheon. They also demanded a meeting with the assistant to the Prime Minister regarding the matter.
After Yerevan Police Deputy Chief Valeri Osipyan ordered the police to remove the demonstrators, he announced that nobody would be detained and ordered the police to treat the protesters with less force.
A group of demonstrators continued to protest at Yerevan’s Liberty Square on March 20, demanding the dismissal of Armenia’s Prosecutor General Artur Davtyan, and the launch of a criminal case against the investigator who motioned for Sargsyan’s second arrest and the judge who made the a decision to.
Sargsyan died on March 16 after he was hospitalized on the evening of March 15 and did not regain consciousness after an emergency surgery. Sargsyan was arrested in August 2016 for taking food to members of Sasna Tsrer, the armed group who had seized a Yerevan police station. Sargsyan was released in December due to an illness. He was arrested again on Feb. 9 for not reporting to a case hearing after being summoned, and had been on a hunger strike in a prison hospital.
After a petition signed by several Members of Parliament, he was released from prison and immediately taken to a hospital. He decided to leave the hospital, but was admitted again on March 15.
Armenian law-enforcement authorities indicated on March 18 that they might prosecute doctors in connection with Sargyan’s death, reported RFE/RL’s Armenian service. Armenia’s Investigative Committee said it has opened a criminal case under an article of the Criminal Code dealing with negligent homicides resulting from inadequate medical aid. It gave no indications that law-enforcement officers or judges who sanctioned Sargyan’s arrest will also be placed under investigation.