By Karine Kalantarian
Three opposition activists were discharged from hospital on Friday after claiming to have been beaten up by government loyalists while distributing leaflets announcing former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s next rally in Yerevan.
The young men involved in Ter-Petrosian’s election campaign said they were assaulted on Thursday by four other individuals led by Melik Gasparian, the head of Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s campaign office in Yerevan’s northern Nor Nork district. They were rushed to a local hospital with injuries but left it the next day, saying that they did not receive adequate medical aid there.
“It can be said that we hardly got any treatment there,” one of them, Hovannes Grigorian, told RFE/RL. “I kept telling [doctors] that I have a headache and nausea but they didn’t care.”
The activists underwent an examination at the Armenian Center for Medical Expertise later in the day after police announced an investigation into the incident.
Another pro-Ter-Petrosian activist was beaten up and hospitalized in similar circumstances last November. The opposition presidential candidate and his allies said at the time that the beating is part of “repressions” unleashed against them by the authorities. The latter denied any involvement, however.
Meanwhile, President Robert Kocharian on Friday joined senior law-enforcement officials in blaming Ter-Petrosian for a violent incident that nearly disrupted the ex-president’s campaign rally in the southern town of Artashat on Wednesday. A group of government loyalists there scuffled with Ter-Petrosian supporters after the latter led a female heckler away from the crowd of more than 1,000 people. The aggressive youths beat one of Ter-Petrosian’s bodyguards and pelted rally organizers with stones and pieces of ice in the presence of foreign election observers and journalists, including two RFE/RL reporters.
However, the Armenian police and Office of the Prosecutor-General say the incident was provoked by Ter-Petrosian’s and his allies’ “offensive” remarks about Hovik Abrahamian, the deputy prime minister and Sarkisian’s campaign manager who holds sway in Artashat. The oppositionists repeatedly referred to Abrahamian by his notorious nickname, Muk (Mouse). The prosecutors also claimed that the youths, reportedly led by Abrahamian’s nephew, did not throw stones or any other objects.
“You can’t go to the native place of an official and try to insult and discredit him there,” Kocharian said, commenting on the incident. “If you are ready to insult people, you must also be ready to hear someone object to you.”
(Photolur photo: One of the most active participants of the Artashat incident reportedly related to Hovik Abrahamian.)