The leader of Armenia’s opposition Homeland party, Artur Vanetsian, has been detained and accused of plotting to kill the country’s embattled prime minister.
Vanetsian, who formerly headed Armenia’s National Security Service, was detained after his arrival for a meeting with the service’s Investigative Department on November 14, according to his lawyer.
“Vanetsian was detained on suspicion of usurping power and preparing the assassination of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian,” attorney Lusine Sahakian wrote on Facebook.
In addition, Sahakian wrote, “illegal searches” were carried out in the apartment of Vanetsian’s parents and an office affiliated with the Homeland party.
The move comes as protests continue against Pashinian’s agreement to a Russian-brokered peace deal with Azerbaijan that ended more than six weeks of fighting over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
On November 12, 10 prominent opposition figures — including Vanetsian — were arrested and accused of “organizing illegal violent mass disorder.”
The detentions were denounced by the opposition as illegal, and the opposition figures were later released.
Pashinian’s agreement to the truce with Azerbaijan on November 10 prompted a furious reaction in the Armenian capital, with protesters storming government buildings and parliament.
While the deal ended fighting that has killed more than 2,000 soldiers and civilians on each side, it has been rejected by Armenians because it allows Azerbaijan to keep large swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but its majority Armenian population has governed its own affairs since Azerbaijani troops and Azeri civilians were pushed out of the region in a war that ended in a cease-fire in 1994.
The most recent fighting broke out in late September.