Media Review | Opposition Leader Jirair Sefilian Sentenced to More Than a Decade in Prison

(Photo: Photolure)

Lebanese-born opposition figure and prominent veteran of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) War, Jirair Sefilian, 51, was sentenced to 10 years and five months in prison on Tuesday. He was charged alongside six other defendants—Gevorg Safaryan, Sasunik Giragosyan, Hrayr Topchyan, Nerses Poghosyan, Galust Grigoryan, and Hovhannes Petrosyan—all of whom received sentences ranging anywhere from two years to five and a half years by judge Tatevik Grigoryan.

According to a news item by RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Petrosyan’s sentence was the shortest, as he was the sole defendant who testified against Sefilian, saying the latter told him to “prepare for the seizure of a television tower in Yerevan.”

Many of the country’s independent media outlets have released op-eds criticizing the verdict. “Serge Sarkisian is not sentencing Jirair Sefilian,” writes Mher Arshakyan for CivilNet, “he is condemning the human drive to pursue change. These people were the last ‘crumbs’ of street [grassroots] fighting.”

The sentence comes nearly two years after Sefilian, the leader of the opposition group Founding Parliament (formerly Pre-Parliament), was arrested in 2016 on charges of plotting an coup against the Armenian government targeting “strategic” facilities, like communications towers and a military base just outside the capital. His 2016 was the catalyst behind a two-week standoff with security forces, in which Sefilian’s followers seized a police compound in Yerevan, demanding his release. The debacle left three police officers dead. Yesterday’s sentencing was based on charges against Sefilian from 2015 to 2018.

According to an account in, Sefilian was repeatedly banned from the courtroom during the proceedings for arguing with Grigoryan, stating at one point, “We do not have a court. Do you think you are a judge? Are you the performer? Do not be afraid when I speak.” Sefilian and all other defendants except Petrosyan strongly denied the accusations against them as politically motivated and have called the case against them a “fairy tale.”


  1. serjuk’s thugs imprisoning a national hero of Shushi on trumped up charges.This is Armenia under serjuk a country run by his thugs.serjuk and his ruling RPA party cannot digest any genuine opposition as the opposition we have now are nothing but pocket parties which suits his agenda.Sadly he has turned Armenia into a banana Republic.

  2. Scam court, scam charges, scam sentence. This government felt “trapped” with their own shortcomings and decided to do away with any opposition which is based on real patriotism instead of patriotism for “Mother Russia”, before people started waking up a lot more. Armenia just showed how desperate it has become to silence any legitimate criticism. What did the Serjh government do to punish Azerbaijan for the illegal invasion, murder of 100 Armenians and conquest of 3 square miles in the 2016 Invasion? What it did was follow orders from Russia, and make excuses, that’s all. Meanwhile not one word of support or solidarity from our “ally”. Same bs of the past 25 years, “warning” after “warning”. Now Azerbaijan considers Armenian threats a joke, and that’s exactly what it is. A government which lets crimes against the nation go unpunished is not a government, it is a puppet of a foreign entity.

    • And “real patriotism” is patriotism for Uncle Sam and Europa, right? And for the past 25 years those two entities were giving anything other than “warning” after “warning” to both conflicting sides? Oh, sorry, I forgot about calls on Armenia for the return of “occupied” Azeri territories. And when the April 2016 war was about to break out the leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan were invited to what country exactly? Was it not the US? Or maybe the US was not aware of the ensuing war? Ha-ha… Or maybe Armenia did not acquire a chunk of Azeri territory, and more strategically important, as a result of the war? And the government of Azerbaijan is not a puppet of a foreign entity? BP, that is?

    • When did I ever say Armenia needs to get rid of Russia and join USA/EU? You are making stuff up. My complaint is with Armenia’s incompetent and weak government and subservience to Russia with no benefit. “Existence” is not a benefit any more than it is for Azerbaijan so don’t tell me that “we exist because of Russia” because this is true of almost every nation on Earth other than a few super powers. At least we would keep our mouths shut if the Russia cheerleaders here said stuff that made sense and was evident that Russia is indeed an ally of Armenia. Instead all we get is “be quiet you know nothing about politics and Russia is the best thing ever”. I am tired of this BS. And for your information, if the government of Armenia had been a truly patriotic government which cared about its people, its future and in addition to the worldwide diaspora community, no western powers would be talking about “return of occupied lands”. This is nobody’s fault except Armenia’s weak leadership. If all the powers realized that if they rubbed Armenia the wrong way, it would mean kiss western investments in Azerbaijan goodbye, then they would be licking Armenia’s feet and put an immediate end to Azerbaijan’s aggressive behavior. And to date with all the exchange of dialogue I had with Russia Cheerleaders, I still have no answer. Why did our “ally” pretend that both sides were responsible in the 2016 war knowing very well that it was entirely Azerbaijan’s fault? What nation on this planet sits idly by and watches its villages get shot at by a hostile neighbor, which has nothing to do with the Artsakh conflict itself (example Nakhichevan and Tavush)? The excuse every time is “they lost more than we did”. Even if that was true, so WHAT????? How did the enemy get an answer wehere they stopped their murder of innocent Armenians? As ususal there are no answers, and there will be none, because “I know nothing about geopolitics”. And when I cite Israel as an example, you all start crying “it is so childish to compare us to the Jews”. I am not comparing Armenians to Jews! I am merely citing what a SUCCESSFUL nation does to protect its interests and security, in contrast to Armenia’s PATHETIC existence thanks to the GOVERNMENT! And as you correctly point out Azerbaijan being a puppet of the likes of BP, now I will ask you John yet another question. Why must it be Armenia to think about “not starting a war”, but not Azerbaijan considering that the west has much more to lose?? If no correct answer is forthcoming like I predict, then the answer is because Armenia does not have a government, it has a proxy government in place for Russia, because Russia could care less about “Armenia’s future”. And yes, no one else does either, except that no one else does not purport to be “Armenia’s ally”.

  3. What a disgrace?
    A Kangaroo court in a Banana Republic.
    It is a mess and gives a very discouraging and dangerous message to real Patriots who sincerely want change.
    Vart Adjemian

  4. National hero Jirayr Sefilian didn’t commit the crimes he was charged for. Serjik’s regime is simply punishing Jirayr for being a vocal critic and for exposing Serjik’s lies about the 2016 losses of territory. Jirayr announced that he was ready to liberate the lost territories. Yet he got jail sentence of more than 10 years. Nothing would make Heidar Aliev happier.

    Armenia is on track turning into a completely totalitarian regime. Beware –
    Stalinism is coming back, where anyone can get a hefty prison sentence without ever committing a crime.

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