The political persecution of Avetik Chalabyan should be stopped: public and political figures comment on the illegalities in the Chalabyan case

Avetik Chalabyan, a member of the "Unification" movement, activist and politician has been under custody for two months already. The politically motivated prosecution, the practice of custody as a preventive measure towards Chalabyan raised concerns among vade range of public groups. According to the reports, Avetik Chalabyan's detention is in the center of attention of international human rights organizations and the press, in the context of the decline of democracy in Armenia, as a case of silencing the opposition leaders through the use of fraud and deprivation of liberty. 

Taking into account the public importance of the Chalabyan case and the accountability of the process, we present the reaction of the public figures of the last few days regarding the Chalabyan case.

"Nikol has something to report to Aliyev today. Avetik Chalabyan will remain in custody. There is one reason why he remains in prison: in Artsakh, he was very active in the field of defense and was one of the thorn in the side of the enemy... and the prosecutors, investigators, judges will one day try to justify themselves, but there will be no one to listen to them, they will have seconds to think silently before the wall of dishonor. it will be late... and the story of the president of the CP student council is separate..." said RA Member of Parliament Gegham Manukyan.

"Two days ago, the investigative committee announced that the preliminary investigation of Avetik Chalabyan's case has been completed. Today, the prosecutor returned Avetik Chalabyan's case materials to the preliminary investigation body and a new motion was submitted to extend the detention. The goal is to keep him in custody as long as possible. (Let me also remind you that from July 1st, the act he was accused of should have been decriminalized and Avetik should have been released from custody, but they made a subtle change to keep that article). I had a chance to say it, I'll repeat it again: the purpose of this circus is to keep any figure away from entering politics. This is a demonstrative punishment for all those who might think of entering politics and threatening Nikol's power, even if only theoretically," said Karen Vrtanesyan, director of the "Razminfo" specialized website.

"I have always said that Nikol Pashinyan's key enemy is the brains and willpower. Avetik Chalabyan is one of those people with a brilliant mind and strong will, therefore he is one of the main targets of Nikol Pashinyan. If Nikol Pashinyan decides so, they will organize a trial in three seconds, and they will change the Criminal Code of RA in order to sentence Avetik Chalabyan to life imprisonment. Avetik Chalabyan is a political prisoner, and I'm surprised by the silence of the international community, which seeing Armenia's decline into a total dictatorship, continues not only to keep silent but also applauds Pashinyan", a former deputy of the National Assembly of RA, activist and politician Naira Zohrabyan.

"The authorities understand very well that, in any case, the possible leaders of the movement should be constrained, isolated, unable to realize their goals. It is in that context that the case and the case of the promise. It is obvious that there could not be a criminal prosecution against him, but it is not enough that the prosecution was carried out, they are constantly changing things. As you know, the article with which he was charged and was the basis for detention was not supposed to work under the new Criminal Code from July 1. But they hastily got together and passed a law to keep Chalabyan in custody," said Zaruhi Postanjyan, a former member of the National Assembly of RA.

"It was not at all necessary that Chalabyan be detained as a preventive measure during the preliminary investigation. Avetik Chalabyan could have been free, if a preliminary investigation had been carried out, a different regime would have been applied. Let's say, not leaving by signature as a deterrent, because with his behavior, he never gave any law enforcement agency, including the investigator, a reason to think that being a liberty, he could hinder the course of the preliminary investigation, influence the behavior of other subjects undergoing preliminary investigation, etc. Such a thing did not happen, there is no such evidence that his being in liberty would be any risky for the investigation," said Edgar Ghazaryan, former head of the staff of the Constitutional court of RA, ambassador, politician.

"For me, it is the biggest mystery for the modern period of Armenian politics. Why is Avetik Chalabyan kept in custody? I'm also interested in that question, because I don't see any logic for that. I can assume that someone has personal problems with him, that’s why. I can assume various things, but all that does not fit into the logic of what is happening in Armenia now," said Karen Kocharyan, a political technologist.

Earlier, former RA Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan announced that Avetik Chalabyan should be released immediately. "The criminal prosecution and detention of Avetik Chalabyan took place on the basis of an obviously provocative recording, the evidentiary significance and admissibility of which give rise to strong doubts. Moreover, he was detained for two months for the act provided for by the article of the Criminal Code, which in 2022 will no longer be punishable under the Criminal Code, which will come into force on July 1. Therefore, Avetik Chalabyan should be released immediately," he said.

Human rights activist Avetik Ishkhanyan reportedly said that Chalabyan's case reminds him of 1937. "That person specially recorded the conversation and was sure that a criminal case was initiated against Chalabyan on the instructions of the authorities. What right does he have to record the private conversation? Perjury is encouraged by the authorities. Remember the case of opposition MP Armen Charchyan," said Avetik Ishkhanyan.

The HRD Office of the RA, led by Kristinne Grigoryan, also requested clarifications from the Prosecutor's Office regarding the case of Avetik Chalabyan. The case of Avetik Chalabyan was also addressed by the editor-in-chief of "Aravot" daily Aram Abrahamyan in the article "Then they came after me...".

Let's remind that he is charged with the act provided for by Part 2 of the RA Criminal Code, which came into force on July 1 (coercion to participate in meetings). "I was arrested in a fictitious criminal case, in which there is no real crime and whose only real purpose is to put undisguised political pressure on me and my friends. Everyone who knows me knows very well that I have not committed any illegal act or even any action that could be against our value system. Any political pressure, any criminal case based on obvious machinations cannot divert me from the struggle for our country and statehood," Avetik Chalabyan said in his statement from the prison.

Public groups and activists have been fighting for the freedom of Avetik Chalabyan for months for now, calling for the release of Avetik Chalabyan through mass protests, petitions and all means prescribed by law. Five members of the RA National Assembly, "Arar Foundation" and former RA Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Vache Gabrielyan submitted letters of recommendation for the change of his restraining order. More than 5000 citizens signed a petition, among which number of public figures, scientists, chairperson and the members of the Parliament of Artsakh, the president, the spiritual leader of the Diocese of Artsakh, calling for the release of Avetik Chalabyan.

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