By Karine Kalantarian
A young Armenian opposition activist was attacked and beaten up by unknown men in downtown Yerevan on Wednesday, the second such incident reported in less than a month.
Narek Hovakimian, a member of the Hima (Now) youth movement supporting former President Levon Ter-Petrosian, was hospitalized with serious head and stomach injuries.
Hovakimian said that the assault occurred in an underground pass in the city center where he claimed to have taken refuge while being chased by several young men.
“As I left the university building late in the afternoon a young man with a dodgy look, who was probably aged 25, approached me and said he has something to discuss with me,” the 19-year-old student told RFE/RL in Yerevan’s Grigor Lusavorich hospital. “He said it’s about a girl, but I figured he is lying because there just couldn’t be such a problem … He caught my hand but broke free and ran to the underground pass.”
“I have no doubts that I was assaulted for political reasons,” said Hovakimian. “The illiteracy of the attackers showed that they are servants of these authorities.”
The opposition activist was visited and questioned by police officials in the hospital later in the day.
The incident occurred almost one month after Hima’s 25-year leader, Arsen Kharatian, was assaulted and hospitalized in similar circumstances. The police say they are still looking for the assailants. Nobody has been prosecuted in connection with that attack.
Several other young supporters of Ter-Petrosian were attacked in the run-up to last February’s presidential election in which the ex-president was the main opposition candidate. One of them, Narek Galstian, was taken to hospital with serious injuries last November just days after publicly claiming to have been detained and ill-treated by the police for distributing opposition leaflets in Yerevan.
(Photo courtesy of Gagik Shamshian.)