Armenia coronavirus cases reach 84

Armenia declares state of emergency over coronavirus

6 new cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in Armenia, bringing the total number of infected to 84, one patient has recovered, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said live on Facebook.

“6 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Armenia. The total number of cases is 84. 81% of the cases are connected with the cases registered in Etchmiadzin town and a manufacturing company [in Yerevan]”, the PM said.

Pashinyan informed that at this moment 444 people are under quarantine, and the government urged 799 people to self-quarantine in their homes.

On March 16 Armenia declared a 30-day state of emergency to fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. The state of emergency is effective until April 14, at 17:00.


Gambling with 80 Million Lives: Why Erdoğan Lied about Coronavirus

One Turkish doctor estimates that as many as 60 percent of Turks may now be infected.

by Michael Rubin

As coronavirus spreads along Turkey’s borders, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ministers remained in denial. Just last week, Turkey’s health minister denied any cases existed in the country, a claim made against evidence that travelers to Turkey had been infected there. Ergin Kocyildirim, a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at the University of Pittsburg’s School of Medicine, wrote a brilliant essay describing both the Turkish government’s claim to have established an effective testing kit and the fraudulence of its claims.

When faced with both local and international disbelief about why coronavirus would bypass Turkey, Turkish authorities took a dual approach. As in China, they arrested whistleblowers. They went beyond simple repression as panelists on the state-controlled Turkish press insisted that Turkish genes rendered most Turkic peoples immune. Many Turks, Erdoğan included, may embrace the notion of both Islamic and Turkish supremacy, but his basic ignorance of science may have condemned Turks to once again prove Darwin correct.

What might have motivated Erdoğan to lie about coronavirus and gamble with the lives of 80 million Turks?

Part of the reason might be Erdoğan’s dangerous combination of arrogance and ignorance. The Turkish leader’s arrogance is reflected in the thin skin he has toward criticism. According to the Turkish Justice Ministry, Turkish police charged an average of 4,500 people each year from 2014 through 2017 with insulting the Turkish leader for criticizing Erdoğan or speaking about his corruption. (Full disclosure: I am one of them). In 2018, the Erdoğan regime initiated 26,000 new cases. Aa cracks began to show in the Turkish economy, Erdoğan spared no effort to muzzle growing criticism. Nor is the Turkish leader’s ignorance any secret as the crackdown on the free press has meant the surviving media merely amplifies the conspiracy theories in which Erdoğan and his top aides believe, such as the Jews targeting them with telekinesis, or that bands on migratory birds to be evidence of Israeli espionage. The Turkish accusation that followers of exiled theologian Fethullah Gülen contributed to the spread of the virus likely is only a matter of time.

A larger motivation may be fear. While Turkey’s demography is shifting in Erdoğan’s favor as conservative families from Turkey’s Anatolian heartland grow relative to the Europeanized Turks from central Istanbul and the Mediterranean coast, the economy is faltering. In 2010, Erdoğan promised that by Turkey’s 2023 centennial, Turkey would be one of the world’s top ten economies. Even before coronavirus, Turkey would be lucky to remain in the top 20 as corruptionnepotism, political interference in business, and broad mismanagement have combined to send confidence in Turkey’s economy into the gutter.


Hetq: Pashinyan secretly orders doubling of salaries for ministers

Hetq: Pashinyan secretly orders doubling of salaries for ministers

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ordered in July the doubling of salaries paid to ministers, deputy ministers and chief secretaries of ministries. The government kept the order a secret.

To verify the information Hetq received about the secret order, we wrote to three ministries.

It received May-August data on the number of employees and the salary fund.

In the case of one ministry, there was a substantial difference in the salaries of the same number of employees. We sent an additional inquiry to the three ministers asking how much the minister had received in terms of salary, bonuses, and other salaries.

For example, Emergency Affairs Minister Felix Tsolakyan received a salary of 6 million drams in May, June, July, and August, as was the case with Environment Minister Eric Grigoryan. If we divide the salary by 4 months, we get 1.5 million drams a month.

We had sent a similar inquiry to the Minister of Finance Atom Janjughazyan. The secretary-general of the ministry did not provide us with information about Janjughazyan’s salary. Instead, he suggested waiting for the annual disclosure.

The amount of salary of public officials in Armenia is defined by law.

According to the RA Law on Remuneration of Public Officials, a minister’s salary coefficient is 12. In order to receive a minister’s salary, this number must be multiplied by the base salary of 66,140 drams. The sum is AMD 793,680, which includes taxes. Meanwhile, without making any changes to the law, the secretary’s order doubled, amounting to 1.5 million drams, according to the prime minister’s secret order.

The same is the case with the salaries of deputy ministers and chief secretaries.

According to the coefficient stipulated by law, the salary of a deputy minister is 562,160 drams, which became 1.060 million drams. The salary of a chief secretary has increased from 595,260 thousand drams to 870,000 drams.

When we understood what had happened, we asked PM Nikol Pashinyan in writing asking why the process had been carried out in secret.

Here is the response of Armen Khachatryan, Acting Head of the Information and Public Relations Department of the Prime Minister’s Office:

“The issue you raised was, as you have mentioned, carried out by secret procedure, so such information is not subject to disclosure. It is important for us to note that the officials you cite submit a declaration of property, income, and interests, which implies that the above process is entirely public and transparent.”

In first LA visit, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan addresses thousands of the diaspora community outside City Hall

Pashinyan made his first visit Sunday to Los Angeles, the largest Armenian population center outside the Republic of Armenia.

Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, waves at the assembled spectators during a rally at Los Angeles City Hall/Grand Park in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sep 22, 2019. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Contributing Photographer)


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Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia, address the audience during a rally at Los Angeles City Hall/Grand Park in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sep 22, 2019. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Contributing Photographer)

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed some 10,000 people from the steps of City Hall on Sunday, Sept. 22, in a rally marking his first visit to Los Angeles, the largest Armenian population center outside the Republic of Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (Photo: AP file)

Pashinyan was appointed to his post after leading a wave of anti-government protests between March and May of 2018 that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan — and has been widely hailed as a harbinger of democracy by championing free elections and government transparency.

“We have created a new image for Armenia,” said Pashinyan after lauding the warm California welcome in Armenian, the diaspora crowd chanting his name.

“We have developed a new slogan: It’s cool to be Armenian,” he said. “And together we have to make it even better, because the Armenian people is one of a great history and past. And our country has a bright future.”

North Hollywood councilmember Paul Krekorian, who became the first Armenian elected to city office in 2010, played a leading role in organizing the rally. Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff also addressed the crowd, calling LA the “capitol of the Armenian diaspora.”

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti praised Pashinyan’s leadership, saying “A day of sunshine has come to Armenia, a day of openness, of democracy. The day has come to invest and support and help the new Armenia rise, and rise and rise under this prime minister.”

Ariella Plachta@AriPlachta

Thousands are starting to pour into Grand Park from Glendale, Pasadena and the SFV for a visit today by Armenian Prime Minister @NikolPashinyan. It’s his first stop in LA, the largest Armenian population center outside Armenia, since getting elected last year

Embedded video

See Ariella Plachta’s other Tweets

The bulk of attendees, clapping and dancing along to traditional music and dance performances on the steps of City Hall, came in predominately from such Armenian community population centers as Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. Buses to downtown LA were made available to the communities.

While estimations of the Armenian population in Greater LA vary, the 2000 census reported over 150,000 Armenians in LA County with some 40,000 living in the San Fernando Valley.

“We’re here to honor and welcome him, for having led the revolution and cleaning up corruption,” said Hrair Koutnouyan of Glendale, who came to see Pashinyan with his wife. “A government that’s without stealing and cheating isn’t something that’s easily accepted, but he’s proving it can be done.”

Sisters Ani and Areni Dergrigorian say they’re optimistic about Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s leadership but want to hold him to account. Their signs demand an end to environmentally harmful mining in the Almusar region of Armenia. Photo: Ariella Plachta, SCNG

Some, like 24-year-old Ani Dergrigorian of Glendale, who has lived in Armenia, is “optimistic” about Pashinyan’s leadership but hopes to hold him to account on issues facing every day Armenians. She and her sister, Areni, brought signs that demanded an end to environmentally harmful mining practices in the nation’s Almusar region.

“Maybe we don’t feel the impacts as much here, but it’s more important than ever for us to be engaged in politics in Armenia,” she said. “We’re all facing climate change on the same planet. At the end of the day it impacts us too.”

Monterey Park doctor Jack Der-Sarkissian said he was moved by the “optimism and enthusiasm” in Armenia following the Pashinyan-led protests, what he and his supporters call the “Velvet Revolution.” He’s listening for proof that the leader will be the steward of democracy he said he would.

“A lot of people in Los Angeles will financially invest in their families and Armenia needs it,” he said. “At the end of the day he needs to convince people like myself that it’s the right time to invest in Armenia. He has a lot of work ahead of him.”

Armenian Protesters Blocking Courthouse Access After Ruling To Free Ex-President Kocharyan

Protesters in Armenia are blocking entrances to court buildings across the country on Monday following Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s calls for action after a court ruled to free former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, a Sputnik correspondent reported

Armenian Protesters Blocking Courthouse Access After Ruling to Free Ex-President Kocharyan

YEREVAN (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 20th May, 2019) Protesters in Armenia are blocking entrances to court buildings across the country on Monday following Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s calls for action after a court ruled to free former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

A court in Yerevan ruled on Saturday to release Kocharyan under guarantees of the former and incumbent presidents of the non-recognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The next day, Pashinyan, on his Facebook page, called for blocking court buildings’ entrances on Monday morning in protest of the ruling.

Protests are taking place in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan along with other regions, with protesters publishing photos and videos on social media.

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian urged the nation to show restraint and respect the constitution in light of Pashinyan’s calls, while the lawyers’ chamber said that the prime minister’s appeals violated the constitution.

Kocharyan, who served as president from 1998 to 2008, was charged with attempts to overthrow Armenia’s constitutional order by suppressing opposition protests in March 2008. He has denounced the accusations as fabricated.

The protests were held by supporters of then-presidential candidate Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who rejected the results of the February 2008 election, won by Kocharyan’s ally Serzh Sargsyan. The rallies led to clashes between the protesters and police who dispersed demonstrators. Pashinyan, in turn, was on Ter-Petrosyan’s campaign team and took part in the rallies.


Yerevan activists shout ‘Murderer!’ while shutting down ex-president’s press conference

“The new Armenian authorities are afraid of what Robert Kocharyan intended to say,” said his representative after the press conference was cancelled

Murderer! and “He has no place in Armenia” screamed dozens of activists who arrived at former Armenian President Robert Kocharyan’s press conference on 14 August, the day after his release.

Kocharyan was remanded into custody on 28 July on charges of breaching constitutional order and his involvement in the deaths of ten people during the 2008 protests while president of Armenia. However, he was freed from custody after the Court of Appeals ruled that his remandment was illegal. Kocharyan’s lawyer Ruben Sahakyan told reporters that his release was based on a provision in the constitution which grants a former president immunity.

The activists were mainly students who participated in Armenia’s recent ‘velvet revolution’, as a result of which the country saw a peaceful change in power. They told journalists who were expecting the appearance of the former president that they intended to disrupt his press conference.

As a result, Robert Kocharyan’s security officers left the hall, and it soon became apparent that he had left the business centre where the appearance was scheduled

• What happened in Armenia in April 2018 and the main actors of the ‘velvet revolution’

Robert Kocharyan was the President of Armenia from 1998 to 2008. He was arrested in connection with the events that took place on 1 and 2 March, 2008: following the presidential elections on 18 February 2008, political bloc supporters headed by the first president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, demanded an investigation into the election results, claiming Levon Ter-Petrosyan won the election instead of Kocharyan. Thousands of protesters occupied the central square in Yerevan, taking part in round-the-clock demonstrations until 1 March.

On 1 March, military-grade weapons were used to disperse the crowds. Eight civilians and two police officers were killed in the process. Kocharyan was still president of the country at the time. According to data from the Central Electoral Commission, President Serzh Sargsyan was elected. However, he had not yet taken office.

Victor Soghomonyan, the head of the former president’s office, accused the new Armenian authorities of disrupting the press conference.

“As you have seen, the authorities are afraid of what Robert Kocharyan intended to say. That’s why they directed their activists to disrupt the conference,” Soghomonyan told reporters.

Robert Kocharyan previously said that he considers the case against him to be politically motivated.

Kocharyan’s representatives are expected to make a statement at a later time.




2006 October 18, 04:08 (Wednesday)
In the metadata of the Kissinger Cables this field is called ‘Previous Handling Restrictions’.

Cablegate does not originally have this field. We have given it the entry ‘Not Assigned’.

Citations for acronyms used are available here.” data-hasqtip=”true” oldtitle=”Handling Restrictions” title=”” style=”box-sizing: inherit; background: transparent; color: rgb(33, 107, 124) !important; text-decoration: none; font-size: 10pt !important; cursor: pointer; padding: 0px 1px; margin-top: 2px; margin-left: 2px; display: inline-block;”>Handling Restrictions

— Not Assigned —
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— Not Assigned —
TE – Telegram (cable)
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1. (U) Oligarchs and thugs have taken to settling scores on the street in greater numbers in the last few months, and high-profile assassinations and murder attempts are on the rise in Armenia. Though the crimes do not appear to be related, and in most cases the motives are unclear, the increase in violence may indicate a new trend in domestic politics. END SUMMARY.




2. (U) On September 30, 2006, the beheaded body of businessman Artur Khalatian was discovered in a car parked in a garage in the village of Zar. Khalatian was one of the heads of the “Avia-Service” company, which belongs to oligarch Gagik Tsarukian, the founder of the new Prosperous Armenia political party. According to local press reports, police said Khalatian was killed by Robert Sargsian, a man who said he wanted to buy Khalatian’s Yerevan apartment. The police told the press that Khalatian went to Sargsian’s village to collect the USD 140,000 payment for the apartment. According to police, Sargsian and two friends killed Khalatian and hid the body in the trunk of his car, where Sargsian’s family found it. Police have arrested one suspect, Tatoul Mirzoyan, but Sargsian and his cousin Henrik Hovnikian are still wanted.

——————————————— ———


——————————————— ———

3. (SBU) Sedrak Zatikian, an influential Yerkrapah (NK war veterans’ political movement) leader was shot dead in broad daylight while driving his car in late June. A bystander was also killed in the crossfire. Despite his youth, the 26-year-old Zatikian was wealthy, relatively powerful and notorious. He headed a suburban Yerevan chapter of Yerkrapah (literally “Defenders of the Land”) and earned his infamy for assaulting the nephew of powerful parliamentary deputy Hakob Hakobian in 2004. Zatikian managed to avoid prosecution by hiding from police for several months and then making peace with Hakobian’s clan. Another of Hakobian’s nephews was arrested in connection with Zatikian’s death but was charged only with illegal arms possession. 4. (U) Zatikian’s funeral was a mafia-style affair, and mourners’ cars crowded the streets of Noy, an affluent subdivision that is also home to many Embassy families. Streets surrounding the area were blocked for hours.




5. (U) Opposition politician Suren Abrahamian, a former interior minister and mayor of Yerevan, was reportedly attacked near his house by unidentified men on October 8, sustaining minor injuries. Abrahamian’s Republic Party fingered Prime Minister Andranik Markarian in what they called “an act of political intimidation” by the government. Markarian denied any involvement. Abrahamian, who is a vocal detractor of the Armenian government in general and presidential front-runner Defense Minister Serzh Sargsian in particular, recently had criticized the prime minister publicly, calling him a “criminal element.” Abrahamian told the press that one of his assailants demanded he apologize for his statements but did not specify which statements, nor to whom he should apologize. “Whether or not he ordered the attack, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian is responsible for what happened,” Abrahamian told a news conference.




6. (U) Police General Aram Zakarian, the chief of the special protection department of the National Police, was wounded after being attacked October 4 in his garage by an armed man.




– 7. According to the local press, Finance Minister Vardan Khachatrian reported to police that someone shot at him on October 2 while he YEREVAN 00001457 002 OF 002 sat in a cafe with friends. Police reportedly interrogated everyone who was at the caf while the minister was there, but nobody corroborated his report. Khachatrian then said he had been drunk while at the caf, and that there had not been a shooting. However, the following day, the minister said there had in fact been a shooting. The Prosecutor General’s office told us the shooting had taken place, but that it was not aimed at the minister, and that Khachatrian had fulfilled his “civic duty” by reporting the case to the police. (NOTE: This case is still a mystery; we saw one article on it October 5, and then it disappeared from the news. END NOTE.)




8. Though these incidents, together with the car-bomb death of a senior tax inspector (reftel), indicate a trend, there is no clear link between them. What is clear is that the perpetrators of these crimes are brazen and have committed several of them in broad daylight. Almost all of the victims and assailants in these incidents have reputations for criminal activity. It’s possible their undercover maneuverings have begun to morph into public clashes, in which case we may reasonable expect more to come as the parliamentary elections approach. GODFREY



Armenian president urges pressure on Azerbaijani to avert war.

Baku and Yerevan have feuded over the Nagorny Karabakh region since Armenian separatists seized it from Azerbaijan in a war that cost some 30,000 lives in the 1990s (AFP Photo/KAREN MINASYAN)

Yerevan (AFP) – Armenia’s President Serzh Sarkisian has urged international powers to step up pressure on Azerbaijan to avoid all-out war over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region, accusing his nation’s arch-foe of military “blackmail”.

“The danger of a new war is constant and will persist until Azerbaijan is persuaded that there is no military solution to the conflict,” Sarkisian told AFP in an interview ahead of a visit to France.

Fears that the decades-long Nagorny Karabakh dispute could escalate have risen since sporadic firing across the volatile frontline surged last April into the worst violence since a 1994 truce.

A ceasefire brokered by Moscow stilled several days of bloodshed but long-standing mediators from Russia, the United States, and France have since struggled to restart a stalled peace process.

Sarkisian — who will meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Wednesday — accused his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev of sabotaging any progress by threatening to start fighting unless he gets his way.

“He said Azerbaijan will not start a war if Armenia fulfills its demands. I said that this is blackmail, not a compromise,” the Armenian leader said.

Sarkisian urged Paris, Moscow, and Washington to “show what price one of the sides will pay if it initiates an attack.”

“That will have a sobering effect,” he said.

– ‘A matter of time’ –

Baku and Yerevan have feuded over the Nagorny Karabakh region since Armenian separatists seized the territory from Azerbaijan in a war that claimed some 30,000 lives in the early 1990s.

Energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia’s entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to take back the breakaway region by force but Moscow-allied Armenia has vowed to crush any military offensive.

The war ended in a fragile 1994 truce but the two sides never signed a firm peace deal and Sarkisian warned that fears of a new surge in fighting are growing.

“Public opinion in Armenia is that the resumption of hostilities is a matter of time — maybe weeks or months — and the commander-in-chief and defense minister must be prepared that a war could start tomorrow,” Sarkisian said.

“I don’t think a fresh war is an immediate threat, but nothing is ruled out when one deals with an unpredictable neighbor.”

– Regional titans –

Any new war in Karabakh could pitch regional titans Russia and Turkey against each other in the Caucasus region that has historically been an arena of their geopolitical rivalry.

Sarkisian also took aim at Armenia’s longstanding foe Turkey, blasting Ankara’s support for its traditional ally Baku over the Karabakh conflict.

There are no diplomatic ties between Yerevan and Ankara, which in 1993 sealed its border with Armenia out of support for Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan.

Turkey has also been angered by Yerevan’s campaign to have the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire recognized as genocide.

“At this point, the process of normalization (with Turkey) is at an impasse,” Sarkisian said. “They link normalization with the Karabakh issue.”

Stressing that international pressure and military parity between Yerevan and Baku have so far helped to avoid a new war, Sarkisian also expressed concern over Russia supplying sophisticated weapons to Azerbaijan worth billions of dollars.

“We take it painfully because Russia is our strategic partner.”

Moscow has sold weapons to both of the former Soviet nations but has a military alliance with Armenia.


Hovik Abrahamyan resigns after weeks of unrest

Move follows standoff in capital Yerevan between police and armed men, and could pave way for a coalition government


Hovik Abrahamyan said he was stepping down as prime minister to ‘give a chance’ to a new government, following recent protests. Photograph: CTK/Alamy

The prime minister of Armenia has announced his resignation following weeks of civil unrest and a sharp economic downturn.

Hovik Abrahamyan told a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the country needs “new approaches and a new beginning,” and his departure should lead the way towards a coalition government.

Last month, Armenia’s president, Serzh Sargsyan, promised to create a government of national accord after a two-week standoff at a police compound in the capital, Yerevan, which left two police officers dead and shook the nation.

Several dozen armed men stormed the building and demanded the release of Zhirair Sefilyan, the leader of the New Armenia Public Salvation Front opposition group, who was arrested in June on suspicion of preparing to seize government buildings and telecoms facilities in Yerevan.

The standoff galvanised Armenia’s protest movement, triggering rallies in support of the gunmen and further clashes with police.

In recent months, there has been a flare-up of violence in Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Karabakh is technically part of Azerbaijan, but it has been run by an ethnic Armenian government since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In April, the worst clashes since a 1994 ceasefire broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In comments reported by Russian news agencies, Abrahamyan said he was stepping down in order to “give a chance to a new government,” which would offer “new approaches in order to consolidate society”.

However, it was not clear from his statement who would lead the government.

Political analysts in Armenia have named the former mayor of Yerevan Karen Karapetyan, a top executive at Russian gas company Gazprom, as the likeliest successor to Abrahamyan.



Armenia ‘attempted coup’: Gunmen storm police headquarters and social media down in country bordering Turkey

Armenian opposition group takes hostages in Yerevan police building

Sunday 17 Jul 2016

Police officer is killed as armed group with links to jailed politician seizes building and demands president’s resignation



An armed group with links to a jailed opposition leader has seized a police building in Armenia, killing one officer, taking hostages and demanding that the country’s president resign.

One of the gunmen said on social media that among that taken hostage in the capital, Yerevan, on Sunday was the country’s deputy police chief.

“A group of armed men entered the premises of a police regiment in Yerevan and is holding hostages under the threat of violence,” Armenia’s National Security Service said in a statement. “One policeman was killed and two others wounded. Two of the hostages were freed.”

Nikol Pashinyan, a member of Armenia’s parliament who met the hostage-takers, said the group had taken eight police officers hostage but later released one who was suffering from high blood pressure.

“The Armenian state continues to operate normally. Police carry out their duties to protect public order and security,” the security service said, dismissing rumors on social networks that a coup was under way.

Media reports said the group was demanding the release of Zhirair Sefilyan, an opposition politician who was arrested last month for alleged firearms offenses.

“We demand the release of Zhirair Sefilyan. We will only obey his orders. Sarkisian must resign,” one of the group members, Varuzhan Avetisyan, wrote on Facebook, referring to the Armenian president, Serzh Sargsyan.


He said that two senior police officers, Armenia’s deputy police chief, Gen Maj Vardan Egiazaryan, and Yerevan’s deputy police chief, Col Valeri Osipyan, were being held hostage.

One of the gunmen, named as Tatul Tamrazyan, was seriously wounded, Avetisyan wrote.

Sefilyan, the leader of a small opposition group, the New Armenia Public Salvation Front, and six of his supporters were arrested in June after authorities claimed they were preparing a plot to seize several government buildings and telecommunications facilities in Yerevan.

A fierce government critic, Sefilyan was arrested in 2006 over calls for “a violent overthrow of the government” and was jailed for 18 months. He was released in 2008.

Last year, Sefilyan and several of his supporters were arrested again on suspicion of preparing a coup but were released shortly afterwards.

A former military officer, Sargsyan has been president of Armenia since winning a vote in 2008 that was followed by violent clashes between police and supporters of the defeated opposition candidate in which 10 people died.