BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:45 P.M.) – Former Chief of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) Artur Vanetsyan pleaded not guilty on charges of preparing the assassination of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the official’s attorney, Lusine Sahakyan, said on Sunday.
On Saturday, Sahakyan said that the former NSS chief was detained on suspicion of plotting the assassination of the prime minister and a coup in the country, calling it “a shameful political persecution aimed at maintaining power.”
Vanetsyan has been participating in opposition protests demanding the prime minister’s resignation after Pashinyan signed a joint declaration to put an end to the conflict in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“The charge is illegal, its content is not clear. Naturally, Vanetsyan pleaded not guilty. We demanded a confrontation with all persons who could presumably testify against him. There have been no confrontations yet, and we have not received any evidence,” the lawyer said.
Mass opposition rallies have been taking place in Yerevan for several days, with protesters demanding Pashinyan’s resignation after he agreed to a ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan concerning the conflict in the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The agreement resulted in the loss of most territories controlled by the Armenian-majority self-proclaimed republic.