Protesters detained in downtown Yerevan

Peaceful Assembly

A COVID-related state of emergency in Armenia limited the freedom of peaceful assembly; however, several demonstrations took place over the last few months from May to August as detailed below. 

Gagik Tsarukyan, leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, is suspected of tax fraud in connection with alleged illegal gambling activities, and is, therefore, under investigation. His supporters organised a protest in June in front of the national Secret Service headquarters in Yerevan, according to AP news agency, during which 90 of several hundred reported protesters were detained. 

On August 12th, the above-mentioned state of emergency was prolonged for another month; gatherings of more than 40 persons are prohibited. 

June to August months were also marked by protests over gold exploration and mining of Amulsar. Protests, some of which have been tense and confrontational, have been ongoing as exploration in the mountainous Vayots Dzor region continues, despite objections from local residents concerned over the potential environmental and public health impact mining could have on the ecology and population in the area. 

Expression

In June, ten Armenian media NGOs issued a statement condemning the state's secret service officers' actions against journalists, some of whom were assaulted while covering the above-mentioned protest on 16 June. According to the NGOs, the authorities not only failed to protect journalists but also attempted to impede their work.

In another case, media outlet Radio Free Europe reported that two of their journalists were threatened in August. Former police chief Vladimir Gasparian threatened the journalists and obstructed their ability to report on the potential demolition of illegally constructed private houses along Lake Sevan. The former police chief reportedly banned the journalists from filming and threatened to kill them. As a result of the incident, several media NGOs issued a statement condemning the threats.  

Association

Armenian civil society continued to face obstacles in carrying out its work due to government restrictions in connection to the COVID response, including difficulties in reaching beneficiaries and decision-makers. A recent analysis of the situation for Armenian civil society during the pandemic found that civic monitoring of public policies and the implementation thereof has been restricted and NGO projects have been halted or postponed.