By Ruzanna Stepanian
Police in Yerevan said on Thursday they have questioned a man identified by opposition leader Ashot Manucharian as one of the participants of his severe beating last April. But they indicated that the investigation will likely get nowhere, citing the victim’s refusal to cooperate with them.
A police source told RFE/RL that the suspect, Vrezh Osipian, on Wednesday “voluntarily” showed up for interrogation during which he strongly denied any involvement in the assault which Manucharian and other oppositionists say was ordered by the authorities.
Osipian, a native of Nagorno-Karabakh who claims to spend most of his time in Moscow, visited last week the editorial offices of the “Aravot” daily which had printed his picture on its front page, suggesting that he was one of the attackers. He told newspaper staff that he specially arrived from Moscow to “find out why I am being discredited” and clear his name.
Manucharian, meanwhile, confirmed that he believes the hefty man with a shaven head was among several men that broke his jaw and knocked him unconscious in broad daylight on April 22. He also told RFE/RL by phone that he will not give testimony to the police because he is convinced that they will not bring them to justice.
The investigators, for their part, say Manucharian’s refusal to cooperate makes it practically impossible for them to prosecute Osipian or anybody else.
Osipian was pictured with a group of similarly well-built men that nearly disrupted an opposition rally in Yerevan on April 5. Scores of police stood by and looked on as they attacked journalists, smashing their cameras. Only two of the thugs were prosecuted and fined by a court.
In an interview with the Hetq-online investigative publication, Osipian claimed that he found himself at the rally by chance. “I went up to the guys to say hello, I saw there was some unpleasantness and so on, and I left,” he said. “I only stood there for ten minutes.”
(RFE/RL archive: Osipian, center, pictured during the April 5 rally.)