This week’s armed attack on a police station in the Armenian capital, Yerevan, has raised questions about whether the use of violence is now seen in the South Caucasus country as an acceptable way to push for reform.
The gunmen who seized control of the Erebuni police station on July 17, killing one law enforcement officer, wounding a few others and taking several hostage, have long advocated the government’s overthrow – not via the ballot box, but by force. They are members of an organization called Founding Parliament, which comprises primarily veterans of the 1988-1994 conflict with Azerbaijan over the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh territory.
Founding Parliament does not have representatives in any elected body. It vehemently opposes territorial concessions to Azerbaijan in exchange for a Karabakh peace deal, now rumored to be under consideration by officials in Yerevan. The group also has taken issue with various alleged civil rights abuses under President Serzh Sargsyan, whose resignation its members now demand.
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Gayane Abrahamyan is a freelance reporter and editor in Yerevan.