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Lusine Hakobyan

Armenian Police Arrest 49 “Activists” for Illegal Arms Possession

Police in Armenia today arrested forty-nine people on suspicion of carrying and possessing illegal weapons.

Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesperson Narek Sargsyan told Hetq that members of the Martakan Yeghbayrutyun (Combat Brotherhood) are among those arrested.

Gayaneh Ghazaryan, wife of publicist and historian Hrant Ter-Abrahamyan, a member of the Combat Brotherhood, told Hetq that her husband and fellow Union members Masis Shiroyan, Avetis Avetisyan, Gor Sargsyan, Siranush Grigoryan have been arrested. Ter-Abrahamyan was later released.)

Ghazayan believes the real reason for their arrest is that the group’s members planned to travel to Verin Voskepar (Upper Voskepar), a former Azerbaijani village controlled by Armenians since the first Artsakh war in the country’s Tavush Province and one of several border villages that Baku has demanded to be returned prior to any peace deal with Yerevan.

Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan has signaled his readiness to return the villages in question. Last Tuesday, Pashinyan spoke to village residents and warned of a new war if the territory wasn’t returned to Azerbaijan. The Armenian leader said Voskepar and three neighboring villages Baghanis, Kirants and Berkaber were “outside Armenia’s sovereign territory”.

Formed in 2021, mainly by 2020 Artsakh War vets, the Combat Brotherhood group strongly opposes any concessions to Azerbaijan. It reported that forty-nine people were arrested today and promises to refill their ranks three-fold.

The group had also organized military training for those interested in learning to shoot before law enforcement banned them.

The group’s Facebook page says several members reached Upper Voskepar despite today’ arrests.

The National Democratic Alliance, another fringe political group in Armenia, reported that six of its members were arrested after reaching Voskepar today.

Group member Avetis Avetisyan is a well-known political activist in Armenia. He was one of the 38 individuals detained on November 5, 2013 at the start of a march in Yerevan entitled “The Revolution of Values” and was sentenced to five years. Avetisyan was released on parole after serving four years and four months in prison.

UPDATE: All forty-nine were later released according toMinistry of Internal Affairs spokesperson Narek Sargsyan.

Top photo: Combat Union members display the Iron Cross at the Sardarapat War Memorial

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