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Pressure On Armenian Opposition Leader Mounts

  • RFE/RL's Armenian Service

Prosperous Armenia party leader Gagik Tsarukian speaks at an awards ceremony near Yerevan in December.

Prosperous Armenia party leader Gagik Tsarukian speaks at an awards ceremony near Yerevan in December.

Scores of police officers hired to provide security for an embattled opposition leader and his property have been dismissed from work in recent days.

The press service of Armenia's National Police on February 16 confirmed 200 such dismissals since last week.

Supporters of Gagik Tsarukian and his Prosperous Armenia Party say the authorities have launched a campaign to sideline him from politics that has gathered speed since President Serzh Sarkisian told leaders of the ruling Republican Party on February 12 that Tsarukian is "evil" and should not be allowed to participate in politics.

Shortly after Sarkisian's statement, Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian ordered officials to probe allegations that Tsarukian owes large sums in back taxes.

Police told RFE/RL that the firings were not politically motivated and were part of "ongoing reforms in the police."

The Prosperous Armenia Party is the second-largest party in Armenia's parliament.

On February 20, the party and its key allies, the Armenian National Congress and Heritage, plan to hold a joint rally in Yerevan to protest the pressure on Tsarukian.

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