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Armenia opposition aides claim they were ‘attacked’ by ruling party MPs

8 December 2021
Reporters attempt to take interviews in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Still from video via News.am

Three aides to opposition MPs claimed to have been physically assaulted by the ruling party’s MPs and their staffers in the office of a deputy speaker of parliament.

Shortly after the incident, one of the three opposition aides, Gerasim Vartanian told reporters that they had been attacked in the office of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ruben Rubinyan. 

Syune Gevorgyan, an aide to Ishkhan Saghatelyan, deputy speaker from the Armenia Alliance, the country’s largest parliamentary opposition faction, said on 7 December she witnessed the incident. 

Gevorgyan claimed she recognised Civil Contract MPs Vahagn Aleksanyan and Hrachya Hakobyan — the brother-in-law of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan —  and Sisak Gabrielyan, among the alleged assailants. 

In his initial comments to the press, Hrachya Hakobyan confirmed that a physical altercation took place, but denied that he participated in it. ‘When I arrived, it had already begun’, he told reporters. ‘I don’t know who is to blame.’

In another interview, he said that the opposition aides had been disrespectful towards him and Civil Contract MP Sisak Gabrielian.

He also claimed that one of the Armenia Alliance aides in the altercation had been accused of participating in the ‘attempted murder’ of then-parliamentary speaker Ararat Mirzoyan during the 10 November 2020 riot in Yerevan

Armenia Alliance MP Aram Vardevanian has condemned the violence as ‘preplanned’ by the ruling party.  He claimed that the ruling party MPs had invited the opposition one the false pretence of  ‘drinking coffee’.

Speaking in parliament on 8 December, Armenia Alliance faction head Seyran Ohanyan described the incident as ‘hooliganism’ that ‘will not be forgotten’.  

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) has launched an investigation into the incident.

Parliamentary brawls between the opposition and ruling party took have erupted repeatedly since the June 20 elections.

The Special Investigative Service had launched an investigation into an August brawl when opposition MP Vahe Hakobyan and fellow opposition MPs brawled with ruling party MPs during a parliamentary session. As of yet, no charges have been laid.

In a previous parliamentary clash later that same month, opposition MP and former Minister of Defence Seyran Ohanyan threw a bottle of water at ruling party member Hayk Sargsyan for calling previous defence ministers ‘traitors’. 

[Read more: Bottles fly in Armenia Parliament brawl]

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