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Armenian Opposition Party Claims More Government Pressure

YEREVAN -- An embattled Armenian opposition party says several of its members have been detained.

Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) lawmaker Elinar Vartanian said late on February 16 that Artur Mamoian, the leader of the party’s branch in Yerevan’s Nor-Nork district, had been detained along with several other BHK members.

Yerevan police said Mamoian was detained on suspicion of illegally possessing weapons.

The detentions came amid reports of pressure imposed on the BHK leader, Gagik Tsarukian.

Police said on February 16 that 200 officers hired to provide security for Tsarukian and his property had been dismissed from work in recent days.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian told leaders of the ruling Republican Party on February 12 that Tsarukian was "evil" and should not be allowed to participate in politics.

Meanwhile, a police spokesman, Ashot Aharonian, said on February 17 that the BHK members' detentions were not politically motivated and were part of the routine work by police.

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