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Pro-Government, Opposition Lawmakers In Armenian Chamber Row



A pro-government lawmaker and his opposition counterpart engaged in a heated verbal exchange following a speech interruption incident at the Armenian parliament on Wednesday.

Armen Martirosian, a member of the opposition Heritage faction, had earlier argued with the chamber’s acting speaker Samvel Nikoyan over his turn to ask a question to a government representative during a traditional question-answer session held in the Armenian legislature.

The opposition lawmaker insisted he had not heard what Nikoyan described as his repeated calls to the MP to ask his question, which left Martirosian deprived of an opportunity to speak.

An argument ensued, with Nikoyan suggesting in a rude manner that the Heritage MP “clean his ears”.

Another argument followed when Martirosian, speaking from the parliamentary rostrum, demanded calm in the chamber to proceed with his remarks addressed to the government. His words drew an angry reaction from the chamber dominated by pro-government lawmakers, with one of them representing the majority Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) hurling insults at Martirosian and demanding that the opposition member “keep it short”.

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) later that day, Heritage faction representative Anahit Bakhshian described the incident as “unbecoming of a state body.”

“This shows that those who call themselves members of parliament treat the state institution with contempt,” said Bakhshian. “By their attitude they delivered a message that they were coming to the parliament chamber only for the sake of being present and for pressing the voting buttons.”

The opposition lawmaker said none of the HHK representatives tried to smooth out the embarrassing situation afterwards.

“Such situations should be avoided in the parliament. It is unbecoming of our National Assembly,” HHK faction member Gagik Melikian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) later. He added that the incident might become a matter of discussion at the HHK.

“I don’t think there is a tense situation. In general, such situations sometimes happen in all parliaments of the world. Sometimes lawmakers even fight in chambers. But I don’t think this particular incident can have any serious consequences,” Melikian said.
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