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Armenian Court Orders Two-Month Pretrial Custody For Opposition Activist

Police Arrest Activists Placing Christmas Tree in Yerevan
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WATCH: Video released by activists in Armenia show police forcefully stopping them from placing a Christmas tree on Yerevan's Liberty Square on New Year's Eve. One of the activists of the New Armenia Public Salvation Front, Gevorg Safarian, was charged with resisting arrest, and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

An opposition activist in Armenia has been arrested and remanded in pretrial custody after he and other members of a radical group seeking to topple the government clashed with riot police on New Year’s Eve.

Police used force against the New Armenia Public Salvation Front activists as they attempted to place a Christmas tree in Yerevan’s Liberty Square, the scene of antigovernment rallies staged by the group in December.

Gevorg Safarian and four other protesters were detained.

All were released within hours except Safarian, who was charged with assaulting a police officer.

Safarian denies the charges, which carry a penalty of up to five years in prison if he is convicted.

Safarian’s lawyer, Tigran Hayrapetian, says it was the police officer who attacked Safarian during the incident.

Other activists have accused the police of violence during a rally outside police headquarters in Yerevan to condemn Safarian’s prosecution.