By Emil Danielyan
The author of a draft law that declares denial of the 1915 genocide a crime accused the leadership of the Armenian parliament on Wednesday of preventing deputies from debating it.
Hmayak Hovannisian, who leads the Agro-Industrial group of non-partisan deputies, accused speaker Armen Khachatrian and other senior lawmakers of taking "illegal" actions to derail a parliament debate on the proposed legislation. Hovannisian said that was the reason why he boycotted parliament sessions this week.
The draft law unveiled in February makes it illegal for any Armenian citizen or resident to "deny, justify or call into question" the fact of the genocide. The National Assembly refused to include the draft in its agenda after several deputies voiced strong objections. They said the bill is ambiguous in defining genocide denial.
But as recently as on April 20 Hovannisian expressed confidence about its eventual passage by the parliament, saying that it enjoys the government's backing.
He claimed in a statement on Wednesday that the parliament committee on legal affairs submitted a negative opinion about the bill at a meeting held in violation of parliament regulations.
Hovannisian has previously spoken out against former government officials who had tied to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia. He has also attacked Armenian members of the controversial Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC). They have been widely accused of hampering Armenian efforts to achieve international recognition of the genocide.