By Shakeh Avoyan
Alexander Arzumanian, a former foreign minister who now leads an Armenian opposition party, was briefly hospitalized early on Tuesday after being severely injured in an apparent argument with security guards at a café in Yerevan.
Reports said Arzumanian and a senior member of his Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), Vahagn Hayotsian, were beaten up by the three guards and briefly detained by police late on Monday.
The law-enforcement authorities launched an inquiry into the incident, all circumstances of which remain unclear. One of the security guards who clashed with the HHSh leaders, Khachik Grigorian, claimed in a report to the police that the two men tried to enter the café, ignoring his warnings that it is closed for repair. Grigorian said they both were drunk.
The café’s owner, Gagik Arzakanian, told RFE/RL that he does not know why they should “intrude” its premises. “Someone was not in a normal state of mind,” he said. “At least, I saw Khachik in the evening and he was all right.”
Arzumanian, who served as foreign minister in 1996-98, declined a comment. A spokesman for the HHSh, Tigran Hakobian, refrained from presenting the ex-minister’s version of the incident and stopped short of condemning the security guards. He instead charged that Arzumanian and Hayotsian were denied medical aid in police custody “for three or four hours.” “They were arrested in blatant violation of the law after being beaten up,” Hakobian told RFE/RL.
Hayotsian was said to be in a critical condition when he was detained.