Lori Marz State Prosecutor Karen Shahbazyan surprised reporters yesterday by stating that ‘throwing stones and eggs’ is a form of civic protest.
Shahbazyan was referring to what happened on April 16 in Vanadzor when a crowd of some 200 gathered outside the office of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly to protest a scheduled screening of short films made in Azerbaijan.
The crowd demanded that the screening be cancelled and threw eggs and stones at the office, breaking several windows and threatening the staff.
Prosecutor Shahbazyan told reporters that he watched all the police footage and saw no evidence of public disorder. He concluded that there was no need for the police to intervene.
Shahbazyan noted that only one stone had been thrown towards the Helsinki Office, shattering a window and injuring an employee’s foot.
Artur Sakunts, who heads the Helsinki Office, asked the prosecutor if he’d express the same view if eggs and stones were thrown at the prosecutor’s office.
“Let it be known that from now on we will stage similar protest actions against the prosecutor’s office, the police and the mayor’s office,” Sakunts declared.
Sakunts agreed that citizens had the right to protest, but that threats and physical assaults were not to be condoned.
The Helsinki Office director claimed that local authorities were behind the attack and that he saw employees of the regional administration in the crowd.
Sakunts said that the prosecutor had jumped the gun by expressing his take on what happened, even before a full investigation had been completed.