By Ruzanna Stepanian
A leader of the governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Vahan Hovannisian, on Tuesday added his voice to condemnations of the weekend beating of a prominent opposition politician, saying that it was politically motivated.
Suren Abrahamian, a senior member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) who served as interior minister in 1999, was reportedly attacked near his house in Yerevan by a group of unknown men.
Hovannisian, who is also a deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, condemned the violence as a “terrible and ugly phenomenon.” “This attack on Suren Abrahamian had to do with political activities,” he told journalists. “This is not only unacceptable but condemnable, and this must be eliminated from our political life.”
Hanrapetutyun leaders have implicitly alleged that the attack may have been the work of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, who was recently branded a “criminal element” by Abrahamian. The latter says that the attackers demanded that he apologize to their unspecified boss.
Markarian dismissed such suspicions on Monday amid lingering opposition allegations that his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) is increasingly relying on controversial government-connected businessmen regarded as “criminal elements” by the opposition. Dashnaktsutyun refers to them as “apolitical forces.” Bodyguards of those businessmen have been widely blamed for similar attacks on other oppositionists as well as journalists critical of the government.
According to Hovannisian, Abrahamian’s beating underscored the need for a special law that would strictly regulate private security services. He complained that the government is reluctant to back a relevant bill drafted by Dashnaktsutyun.