By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Khosrov Harutiunian, a former Armenian prime minister and parliament speaker, was accused by a business partner on Wednesday of orchestrating the previous night’s beating of his two sons in a dispute over a gasoline station which they jointly own.
Mekhak Gabrielian, a former parliamentarian, told RFE/RL that his sons Sarkis and Artak were attacked by more than a dozen men inside the station on the southern outskirts of Yerevan moments after a visit by Harutiunian. He said they and several of their employees were left seriously injured.
Gabrielian has a 50 percent stake in the business. The rest of it is owned by Harutiunian and his family.
According to Gabrielian, the dispute arose after the former premier decided to sell his 25 percent share to an individual “well known in the underworld.” “My son objected that he should have discussed the issue with us before making the decision and that maybe we would buy it,” he said. “Then Khosrov left and those men came in and began beating my sons without saying anything.”
“This action was planned and premeditated by Khosrov Harutiunian,” Gabrielian charged. “The law-enforcement bodies must clarify everything and punish the guilty.”
Harutiunian declined to be interviewed, saying only that his partner should “prove the allegations to the law-enforcement agencies.” Meanwhile, police and prosecutors in the city’s southern Shengavit district opened a criminal case under a clause in Armenia’s criminal code which deals with “hooliganism.” There were no official reports of arrests in connection with the inquiry as of Wednesday evening.
The case could prove highly damaging for Harutiunian’s efforts to end years of political oblivion and again become a major player in the Armenian political stage. Armenia’s prime minister from 1992-93 and parliament speaker from 1998-99, he was effectively forced to retire from active politics after failing to get reelected to the National Assembly in the May 1999 elections.
His small Christian Democratic Union party likewise failed to win any parliament seats in last year’s polls. The party has grown more critical of the current ruling coalition of late, but remains cautious to avoid direct attacks against President Robert Kocharian.
(Photolur photo: Khosrov Harutiunian.)