YEREVAN (A.W.)—The armed opposition group calling themselves “Sasna Tsrer,” which occupied a Yerevan police station on July 17, released all four police officers they were holding hostage after extensive negotiations with the Armenian government. The negotiations were done through a mediator, Vitaly Balasanian.
Balasanian, a retired Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh Republic/NKR) army general, announced the imminent release of the hostages while speaking to Armenia’s Shant television station, reported RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Azatutyun.am. Two rank-and file policemen were set free, as well as high-ranking officers Vartan Yeghiazarian and Valeri Osipinian in the following hours, according to the report.
During the negotiations, it was agreed that in return for the hostages’ release, Armenian law enforcement officers and authorities would permit the armed group’s leaders to speak to journalists in a neutral zone around the occupied police station. Nearly 40 reporters were transported to the area late Saturday afternoon, though none of them were allowed to hold a live broadcast of the news conference.
It is not yet clear whether the authorities discussed the hostage-takers’ initial demands—that is, the release of Jirair Sefilyan from prison and the resignation of President Serge Sarkisian.