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Man arrested and beaten after insulting Armenian ruling party MP

17 April 2024
Samvel Vardanyan. Image via Facebook.

A man arrested for insulting an MP from Armenia’s ruling Civil Contract party was reportedly beaten by a group of masked people while in detention.

Samvel Vardanyan was arrested on charges of hooliganism on Monday after an altercation with MP Hakob Aslanyan on a bus in Yerevan. He was later charged with inciting political enmity.

Footage of the incident shows Vardanyan and Aslanyan insulting and pushing each other.

On Tuesday, Vardanyan’s lawyers, Ruben Melikyan and Varazdat Harutyunyan, stated that their client was beaten by a group of masked people whilst in custody.

Harutyunyan said that Vardanyan was attacked on the day of his arrest while being escorted by two police officers to a detention centre.

He said that shortly after the police officers escorted Vardanyan out of the police station, they stopped and said they were leaving to use the toilet. A group of masked people dressed in black then approached the car, dragged Vardanyan out, and beat and insulted him for around four minutes

He added that the masked men pulled his trousers down and held a stick between his legs in an act of humiliation and sexual harassment whilst he was kneeling, handcuffed on the ground. The men then dragged Vardanyan back to the patrol car.


The police then returned and asked him what had happened to him, as he ‘appeared to be okay’ when they left.

Harutyunyan claimed that his client had sustained injuries to his face, hands, and shoulders.

Melikyan called the incident a ‘terrible crime against a person who was under the full responsibility of the state’ and accused the police officers escorting Vardanyan of complicity in the attack on his client.

He concluded that there were sufficient grounds to believe that the attack was organised by Civil Contract as an ‘act of punishment and intimidation’.

‘Pre-arranged torture’

Vardanyan’s reported beating was widely condemned by rights activists in the country, who criticised the ruling party for lagging behind on implementing key police reforms.

Daniel Ioannisyan, the programmes coordinator of the Union of Informed Citizens, stated that police in Armenia were ‘spreading fear and dread amongst people’, and that the police’s actions served to push the country away from the EU.

[Read more: EU Parliament passes resolution supporting Armenia’s prospective EU membership]

‘Pre-arranged torture of a person while they are being transported to a detention centre  is not even so much Russian as Belarusian tradition’, wrote Ioannisyan.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs announced that it was launching an internal anti-corruption investigation into Vardanyan’s claims, while the Human Rights Defender’s office on Tuesday called on the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the case.