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Armenian opposition leader faces criminal charges 

4 March 2021
Vazgen Manukyan. Photo: Ani Avetisyan/OC Media.

Armenian opposition leader Vazgen Manukyan has been charged with ‘calling for the violent overthrow of the constitutional order’. Manukyan has decried the charges as ‘political persecution’.

‘I am not going to testify’, Vazgen Manukyan said on Thursday, before going in for questioning by Armenia’s Investigative Committee. 

He has since been released on the promise that he would not leave the country.

Before the questioning began, Manukyan told journalists he does not regret anything that he had previously said. The charges were triggered by comments he made during a public address on 20 February when he said that the opposition would need to be ready to take power by ‘rebelling with lightning speed’. 

In January he also called for an uprising, but ‘without violence’. 

‘I do not care what questions they will ask, as I won’t answer any questions’, Manukyan said on Thursday. ‘This is political persecution. In our country, the Constitution has been violated by the head of the country at least once a month for the last two-and-a-half years’.

Manukyan assured journalists he will continue participating in the ongoing opposition protests and that he would continue working towards ‘ousting Pashinyan’ until he is arrested.

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Manukyan is the Prime Minister of choice for the Homeland Salvation Movement, a coalition of opposition parties that have called for Prime Minister Pashinyan’s resignation and replacement by a transitional government. 

Pashinyan has rejected calls for his resignation and at a rally on 1 March challenged the parliamentary opposition to agree on holding snap elections. 

[Read more: Pashinyan to opposition: 'I challenge you to support new elections']