The only issue included in the agenda of yesterday’s session of the interim parliamentary committee investigating the March 1-2 events and their causes concerned the disclosure of the details and circumstances of the incident that took place on the Theatrical Square in the morning of March 1 and the clarification of the operations of the police officers. To this end, Major-General ALEXANDER AFYAN, Deputy Chief of the Police, was invited to the committee session.
Responsible for the protection of public order, Deputy Chief of the Police said that back on February 29 they had received information that “The demonstrators who had gathered on the Theatrical Square were going to be supplied with fire-arms, grenades, explosives, iron sticks and clubs, and provocative acts were going to be organized.
This issue was discussed in the Police, and a task was set to examine and explore the site. Accordingly, a plan of actions was drawn up. At a quarter to 7 in the morning, the police forces were deployed along the adjacent streets, and the operative groups prepared for examining the site.”
According to General Afyan, the police officials announced many times before approaching the square that they were going to conduct an examination of the site and asked the demonstrators not to create obstacles. The policemen were unarmed, and the operative group did not have special means. Whereas all the metallic and wooden benches of the Theatrical Square and the adjacent territories were dismantled, and there were barriers and even barricade-like constructions in some places.
A. Afyan insisted that some of the demonstrators had called on the other participants to disobey and resist the policemen. “All this is a fact; there are proofs, and relevant video materials are available. Unfortunately, the operations of the police officers were impeded; threats and abuses were hurled. Then, they began throwing stones at the policemen and using the iron sticks (1.5 meters long) and clubs
I was responsible for ensuring public order, and I insist that the policemen and the officers of the operative services were unarmed. It was only at a quarter past 7 that the auxiliary forces deployed along the street were instructed to intervene, restore the public trust and help the operative forces carry out their task.”
The Deputy Chief of the Police confirmed that the site had been explored in the presence of witnesses, in a manner prescribed by law, although, as he added later, there had also been demonstrators and police officers among the witnesses. Mr. Afyan also assumed that the operative service had recorded everything on video, but he didn’t insist that there were video materials available. “The fact has to be clarified through the special investigative service. Definitely, all the demonstrators had been warned about everything on the previous day, and they were aware that the police were going to examine the site. This fact was also confirmed by the criminal case which was instituted thereafter. We also have a convict.
Thus, all the demonstrators were prepared. Supplied with arms, they were waiting for the police forces, and started military operations with us. This is a fact.
The statement that the police complied with an instruction to clear the square is a lie. As a result of exploring the site, arms, iron stick, grenades and bottles filled with petrol were discovered. If there had been an instruction for dispersing the peaceful demonstrators, we would have gone there with special means and water-pouring vehicles. We went there for exploring the site. This information is precise and unequivocal.”
The Deputy Chief of the Police also answered the question which has been continuously speculated during the recent months. “I supervised the operation, and the instructions were given by me. There were around 600 policemen participating in the operation. Among them, 200 people were from district police departments of Yerevan, 250 people were from the patrol police regiment of Yerevan, 6 people were from the Chief Police Administration, and 34 people were from the Chief Criminal Department of Yerevan. The operative group consisted of 113 servicemen.
The others were policemen protecting public order, servicemen of the patrol police regiment and officers from district departments. No special detachments were brought here from Karabakh. Our forces were enough. Statements of this kind are speculations which pursue specific goals.”