Activists of Armenia’s two largest pro-government parties reportedly clashed in Yerevan late on Tuesday in a dispute related to the upcoming municipal elections.
Police confirmed on Wednesday that the incident took place at an election campaign office of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the city’s Kanaker-Zeytun district. Scores of police officers could be seen outside the office on Tuesday night.
A police spokesman told RFE/RL that a group of activists of the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) “scuffled and quarreled” with local HHK officials. He declined to give further details, saying only that the police have launched an investigation.
Newspaper reports said that BHK activists attacked the HHK office in retaliation for the beating earlier in the day of their comrades by Republican campaigners armed with clubs. According to the opposition daily “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun,” the beating was ordered by Arayik Kotanjian, the Kanaker-Zeytun mayor affiliated with the HHK. Kotanjian refused to comment when contacted by RFE/RL.
The police spokesman claimed that the district chief was not in the HHK office during the incident and that it is son who confronted the angry BHK activists there. But Gagik Mkrtchian, deputy head of the HHK branch in Kanaker-Zeytun, denied that. “The mayor’s son wasn’t here,” he said.
Mkrtchian also downplayed the significance of the incident, calling it a “normal work process.” “Some guys came over, spoke with Kotanjian and left,” he told RFE/RL. “Nothing special happened here.”
For his part, Aram Safarian, a senior member of the BHK, claimed that the visitors were not members of his party which is represented in Armenia’s coalition government by four ministers. “We have nothing to do with what happened,” he said, dismissing reports to the contrary as a “provocation and black PR” directed against the BHK.
Local residents, meanwhile, were reluctant to comment on the violence. “All I saw were lots of police and other people,” one woman said.
“Neighbors told me that BHK guys came over and beat the district chief,” said one man. “This is what I heard.”