By Ruzanna Khachatrian
A flamboyant brother of Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday reportedly threatened and swore at a young female journalist who claimed that he was involved in a drunken bust-up with reputed crime figures at a Yerevan restaurant earlier this month.
Citing an unnamed source, the opposition-linked “Iravunk” newspaper reported last week that the brawl broke out as Aleksandr Sarkisian dined with several wealthy individuals with underworld connections late on May 2. The report, authored by Taguhi Tovmasian, said they suddenly “recalled” that he struck a shady business deal which they did not like and decided to bring him to task.
Eyewitnesses said Sarkisian, who is a member of Armenia’s parliament, shouted a litany of abuse as he confronted the journalist inside the parliament building in Yerevan. “If you don’t tell me who gave you that information, you’ll have problems. You know who I am, don’t you?” he was quoted as saying.
Tovmasian said she suggested that the lawmaker issue a written retraction of the report or sue her newspaper. “You are dirty, you are trash. Your paper is not worthy of my retraction,” he is said to have replied.
Sarkisian, who has extensive business interests and rarely attends parliament sessions, is no stranger to controversy. His prolonged absence from Armenia in 2004 and 2005 sparked rumors that he and his family have fled the country. Sarkisian reportedly spent most of that time in Britain and the United States.
Speaking to reporters on his return to Yerevan last October, Sarkisian admitted having moved a considerable part of his assets overseas. He also did not deny reports that he acquired over $12 million worth of real estate in California.
(Photolur photo: Aleksandr Sarkisian.)