Armenia’s Investigative Committee is proceeding with criminal cases opened against two members and one supporter of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. The suspects were detained last week on charges of paying residents of the Ararat province to attend opposition rallies last year. Law enforcement authorities presented a document with a list of the names and political affiliations of Ararat residents found in the homes of one of the defendants as evidence. Their lawyers noted that their clients were detained months after the criminal investigation was opened. “For six months, no action was taken, nobody was summoned,” one of the lawyers, Sergey Harutyunyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Then all of a sudden they carried out the searches and arrested the three men at dawn.” The protests were organized last year by opposition political parties to call for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
A member of the opposition Popular Front Party has been sentenced to six years in prison on charges he says are politically motivated. Jafar Mirzayev sought asylum in Germany last year yet was denied and deported to Azerbaijan. Mirzayev was arrested two months after his return on charges of possessing illegal drugs. He says the drugs were planted by the authorities to target him for sharing social media posts criticizing the Azerbaijani government and protesting on behalf of Azerbaijani political prisoners while in Germany. More than a thousand Azerbaijanis have been deported from Germany over the past few months. Six Azerbaijanis deported from Germany have been arrested over the past two years, four of whom have been charged with drug-related offenses.
The Tbilisi Court of Appeals has reduced the prison sentences of a group of men convicted of attacking two reporters during riots targeting journalists and LGBT activists in July 2021. The six men attacked TV journalist Miranda Baghaturia and camera operator Alexandre Lashkarava, who died after sustaining injuries. The appeals court reduced the sentences of the attackers from five to four years and cleared them of participating in group violence. The riots were orchestrated by far-right group Alt Info, which directed its supporters through social media channels to find LGBT activists participating in the Pride parade and the reporters covering the march. At least 53 journalists were injured in the attacks.
Turkish authorities have denounced the decision by a Swedish prosecutor not to investigate the burning of an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a Kurdish protest in Stockholm. Turkey has summoned the Swedish ambassador and canceled a visit by the speaker of the Swedish parliament in response to the protest, which Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called a “racist incident which consists of hate crimes.” Turkey has for months blocked Sweden’s application to join NATO, insisting that Sweden must extradite Kurdish exiles Turkey says are associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party.