Tuesday, 2 August 2016


BT.com, UK
July 31 2016
Siege in Armenian capital ends as gunmen surrender

All 20 gunmen who remained inside a police compound in 

the Armenian capital have surrendered, ending a two-week 
The capitulation by the armed members of a radical opposition group
ended a siege which left two police officers dead and several wounded
on both sides.

The stand-off triggered protests which led to wider unrest in the
capital, Yerevan.

The leader of the gunmen, Varuzhan Avetisyan, said in a telephone
interview that they had decided to surrender after security forces
used armoured vehicles to enter the police compound.

Another factor, he said, was that police had started to shoot gunmen
who ventured outside. Most were hit in the leg, but a man shot on
Sunday was hit in the chest, he said.

A group of 31 armed men seized the police compound on July 17 to
demand freedom for the leader of their group, who was arrested in

The group, Founding Parliament, has sharply criticised the government
of the former Soviet republic and called for people to take to the
streets to force the president and the prime minister to step down.

Several thousand people joined nightly rallies to support the gunmen,
occasionally clashing with police.

In recent days, four members of the group had surrendered, including
two earlier on Sunday, while at least seven were wounded. The gunmen
killed one officer and wounded several others in their initial attack.

Police accused the opposition gunmen of killing a second officer on
Saturday as he sat in a vehicle away from the compound, although Mr
Avetisyan denied this.

The gunmen had held four police officers hostage for a week before
releasing them unharmed. They later seized four members of an
ambulance crew, but the last two were allowed to leave on Saturday.

On Saturday night, demonstrators marched down Baghramyan Avenue toward
the main government buildings and the presidential residence, but were
stopped by riot police, who strung coils of barbed wire across the

The demonstrators blocked traffic for about two hours, but dispersed
peacefully early on Sunday.

Irish Examiner
Aug 1 2016
Armenian police station siege ends
Monday, August 01, 2016
Hasmik Mkrtchyan

Armed men who seized a police station in Armenian capital Yerevan
surrendered to the authorities yesterday after a two-week stand-off,
the country’s National Security Service said.

“The anti-terrorist operation is over,” the service said in a
statement, adding that the authorities had “forced the members of the
armed group to lay down their arms”.

“Twenty terrorists have been taken prisoner,” the police said.

A group of around 30 gunmen had originally seized the police station
on July 17, killing a police officer, wounding two others, and taking
nine people hostage.

A second policeman, outside the building, was killed on Saturday, when
the police had given the men an ultimatum to surrender.

Several gunmen were also wounded during the 14 days of the stand-off.

In a sign of the deep divisions within Armenian society, the gunmen
had attracted sympathy from several thousand opposition protestors,
leading to street clashes with police.

The armed men included veterans of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh with
neighbouring Azerbaijan, and were seen as national heroes by their
supporters, who want the government to pursue a harder line on the

Within a week, the group had released all its hostages, including two
senior police officers, but they then took four doctors hostage and
refused to surrender. The doctors were also eventually released.

The hostage-takers’ main demand was the release of Jirair Sefilian, an
opposition leader accused by the authorities of plotting civil unrest.
Sefilian was jailed in June over allegations of illegally possessing

Sefilian, a former military commander, has accused Armenian president
Serzh Sarksyan of mishandling the long-running conflict between
Armenian-backed separatists and Azeri forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh
region of Azerbaijan.

A Moscow-brokered ceasefire halted four days of violence in the South
Caucasus region in April — the worst flare-up in years — but sporadic
shooting persists at night and some deaths have been reported.

The gunmen were also demanding the resignation of President Sarksyan,
and blamed the authorities for economic and social problems in the
country of 3.7m people.

“Our task is fulfilled,” Varuzhan Avetisyan one of the gunmen, told
Armenian Internet TV and newspaper 1in.am shortly before surrendering
to the police.

“Popular protest will continue. We feel that our victory is close and
call on Armenian people to continue the fight,” he said.

On Saturday night, demonstrators marched down Baghramyan Avenue toward
the main government buildings and the presidential residence, but were
stopped by riot police. 

RFE/RL Report
Protests Continue In Yerevan
July 31, 2016
Karlen Aslanian
Nane Sahakian

More than a thousand people blocked a major street in central Yerevan
late on Saturday in continuing demonstrations held in support of an
armed opposition group demanding President Serzh Sarkisian's

The crowd unblocked Marshal Bagramian Avenue leading to the
presidential palace after a police warning issued two hours
later. Only up to 200 protesters remained there by that time.

The protest took place despite the arrests of several more opposition
and public figures that have organized daily demonstrations since
gunmen affiliated with Founding Parliament, a fringe opposition
movement, seized a police compound in Yerevan's Erebuni district on
July 17.

At least four of them were taken into custody after leading supporters
the previous night to the Sari Tagh neighborhood overlooking the
compound. Riot police used force against the protesters after they
refused to disperse. More than 60 people were injured in the crackdown
condemned by mainstream opposition parties and human rights groups.

The police also detained at least 165 people in Sari Tagh and on
Khorenatsi Street leading to the scene of the standoff between
security forces and the gunmen. Twenty-three of them were formally
placed under arrest on Saturday on suspicion of organizing "mass
disturbances" just a few hundred meters from the Erebuni police
premises. The others were apparently set free.

The arrested persons included two senior members of the opposition
Zharangutyun party, Armen Martirosian and Davit Sanasarian, the former
presidential candidate Andrias Ghukasian and a well-known Armenian pop
musician, Yeghishe Petrosian.

Another protest leader, Alek Yenigomshian, was arrested and charged
with aiding the gunmen earlier this week. Yenigomshian is a leading
member of Founding Parliament.

Martirosian's lawyer, Givi Hovannisian, said his client considers his
arrest an act of "political persecution." He insisted that neither
Martirosian nor the other oppositionists provoked the Sari Tagh

"Armen Martirosian on the contrary tried to prevent the clashes,"
Hovannisian told RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Sanasarian was detained at a Yerevan hospital where he was taken early
on Saturday to receive treatment for injuries suffered during the
police assault. He fainted while being dragged away several
plainclothes officers.

Saturday's demonstrations was led by other, less famous
individuals. They refrained from staging another march to Sari Tagh or
the Erebuni street section.

Instead, the protesters marched through the city center before
starting a sit-in on Marshal Bagramian Avenue. Several rows of riot
police were deployed nearby to prevent them from advancing towards the
presidential palace.

At one point, a middle-aged man tried to set himself on fire in a show
of solidarity with the gunmen. Although other protesters quickly put
out the flames, he appeared to have suffered serious burns and was

The remaining protesters agreed to unblock the street after a senior
police officer told them that the gathering is illegal and can be
forcibly dispersed.

Daily Sabah, Turkey
July 31 2016
Turkish police detain more soldiers related to murder of Dink 
in 2007
While police have stepped up investigations into Gülenist infiltrators
and officers linked to the Gülenist Terror Organization (FETÖ) since
the coup attempt on July 15, one murder case has received renewed

Police detained 20 suspects, including officers, in an investigation
into the murder of the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant
Dink in January 2007. With the latest detentions in Istanbul, the
total number of those detained since July 27 in relation to the case
has risen to 25. The identities of the new suspects were not revealed,
but they are believed to be Gülenist officers who might have played a
role in the murder plot.

The Gülenists, who Ankara asserts attempted to topple the government
through officers loyal to FETÖ leader Fethullah Gülen, have long been
blamed for the killing of Dink in Istanbul by a 17-year-old teenager,
Ogun Samast, and the cover-up of their involvement in the aftermath.
Gendarmerie officers were long spared from investigation despite calls
from activists urging a broader investigation into the murder,
claiming gendarmerie intelligence officers were aware of a murder
plot. Indeed, several gendarmerie officers were captured on security
camera footage both before and after the murder, near the crime scene
and near Dink's residence. Dink was shot dead in broad daylight on the
sidewalk outside his office at the Agos weekly where he was

Allegations of Gülenist links and a cover-up of the case were in the
spotlight after coup attempts by Gülenist prosecutors and police in
2013. An Istanbul court reopened the case, and the subsequent legal
process saw former police chiefs detained for negligence and cover-up.
The next hearing in the trial of the Gülenist police chiefs is
scheduled for Aug. 8.

Dink's murder caused public outrage and was initially blamed on
ultra-nationalists angry over Dink's comments on Turkish-Armenian
relations, a sensitive issue for nationalists. A judicial inquiry into
his murder saw Samast and his accomplices jailed, but the allegations
of a role played by public officials in the murder has long remained
in the shadows. A renewed investigation after two coup attempts by the
Gülen Movement in 2013 laid bare links between the murder suspects and
police officers with ties to Gülenists. Although Gülenist officers are
not accused of directly ordering the hit on Dink, they are accused of
negligence in ignoring tips and intelligence reports that indicated
threats to Dink's life.

The first investigators in the case were prosecutors Selim Berna Altay
and Fikret Seçen. Seçen is now wanted for ties to FETÖ in another case
and remains at large. The two prosecutors dismissed an investigation
of links by terrorist organizations to Dink's murder. In 2011, Samast
was sentenced to 22 years in prison, while the case, now transferred
to another court, took a new turn when a new prosecutor blamed the
murder on Ergenekon, an alleged gang of generals, journalists,
politicians and academics who were imprisoned in another
investigation. Ergenekon later turned out to be a plot to imprison
critics of Gülen, the accused FETÖ leader, and alleged gang members
were subsequently released, while the prosecutors and judges in the
Ergenekon case now face charges of membership in FETÖ. 

The Independent on Saturday (South Africa)
July 30, 2016
Mkhitaryan admits That Kagawa failure is a warning

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has admitted that Shinji Kagawa's failure to make
the transition from the Bundesliga to the Premier League at Manchester
United is a warning that he cannot waste time to make an impact at Old

Armenia international Mkhitaryan has completed a £26.3 million
summer move to United from Borussia Dortmund, following the path taken
by Japanese midfielder Kagawa four years ago.

Despite making a bright start to life at United, Kagawa ultimately
struggled to make a success of his move and was sold back to Dortmund
just two years later.

Mkhitaryan, who made his United debut in a friendly against Wigan ten
days ago before facing former club Dortmund during the
weather-interrupted tour of China, is expected to battle with Juan
Mata for an attacking midfield role under Jose Mourinho.

But he insists he is ready to prove his worth after learning from
Kagawa's difficulties at United.

"Of course (Kagawa's difficulties are a sign of the demands at
United)," Mkhitaryan said.

"In this club, you have to try and do everything to show your best
qualities, otherwise you will not be here anymore.

"So I will try to do my best, I will try to help the team win the
games, try to keep fit and bring my sharpness to the team.

"I never promise something, I always say that I will try, because if
you promise something and you don't do you will always be under

"So that is why I'm trying to say I will do all my best and I will try
to help Manchester because, for me, this is a new challenge and I like

"I like to win the difficulties because when you win the difficulties
it makes you stronger, so I'm trying to do everything to come up to a
new level.

"But it doesn't matter if they buy me for, I don't know, €38Â
million or €40m, I am not guaranteed to play the games, so I am
trying to do my best during the training to earn this place to play
and then we will see.

"I don't think I will play every game, depending on the tactical
situation, depending on the opponent, but I will do everything to try
and help the team."

Mkhitaryan, a multi-lingual university graduate, will become the first
Armenian to play in the Premier League when the season begins next

And he admits he will be inspired by his late father, Hamlet, who died
at the age of 33 from a brain tumour after a career as one of
Armenia's leading footballers.

"My father was my drive, so he was my motivation, because when I was
young he was playing football professionally and I was always dreaming
to go with him to the training ground," he said.

"He was 33 years old when he died and I was 7 years old at the time
so, yes, it is a pity but that's life.

"The life continues and I hope he is proud looking at me from the sky
so I try to do everything to make him proud.

"It is very difficult when you grow up without a father because, in
the family, you don't have a real man who can give you direction,

"But my mother was my mother and father, so I am thankful to her and I
am thankful to all the people who were next to me at the time in a
hard moment so the life continues and I am trying to learn something
new from the people and getting into football."

I like to win the difficulties because when you win the difficulties
it makes you stronger, so I'm trying to do everything to come up to a
new level.

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