Armenians marked the one-year anniversary of an armed takeover of a Yerevan police station with commemorations both for the police officers who died in the attack, and for the attackers themselves. The dual events underscore that the country is still wrestling with the incident’s legacy.
On July 17, 2016, armed gunmen from the group Sasna Tsrer (the name referring to a medieval Armenian epic) stormed a police station, took several hostages, and demanded the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan. The attackers quickly became folk heroes in the eyes of many Armenians, whose frustration with the government prompted them to accept the use of violent methods in opposition to the leadership. The attackers held the police station for two weeks, during which time three police officers were killed and more than 100 demonstrators – who flocked to the station to support the attackers – were injured in clashes with police.
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Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at EurasiaNet.org, and author of The Bug Pit. He is based in Istanbul. With reporting by Oksana Musaelyan.