Demonstrations erupted in the center of Yerevan, Armenia on the evening of March 16 following the death of Arthur Sargsyan. Known as “bread bringer” during the police patrol station siege in July of 2016. Sargsyan died in Armenia Medical Center on Thursday afternoon.
He drove his car to bring food to the fringe opposition group Sasna Dzrer, also known as Daredevils of Sassoun, during the Yerevan police station hostage crisis.
The incident occurred when a group of armed men calling themselves Sasna Dzrer, stormed and seized a police patrol station in Yerevan, taking nine hostages on July 17, 2016. The group demanded the resignation of President Serge Sargsyan, as well as the release of opposition leader Jirair Sefilian and other political prisoners. In between the 13-day standoff with the government, Sargsyan drove his vehicle through the police barricades and delivered food to the armed group amid police gunfire. Sasna Dzrer surrendered on July 30, 2016.
Sargsyan was arrested on August 2 with the accusation of assisting the armed group Sasna Dzrer. He was released on December 31, 2016 but arrested again on February 9, 2017, at which point he began a hunger strike, further deteriorating his already poor health.
On March 6, 2017, Sargsyan was released from Convicts’ Hospital penitentiary institution and taken to a hospital. The day before his death, he underwent surgery but did not survive.
Sargsyan’s death comes less than three weeks before Armenia’s parliamentary election, scheduled for April 2. This will be the country’s first parliamentary election since a 2015 referendum which turned Armenia from a presidential system into a parliamentary system.