The opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party demanded on Wednesday that Surik Khachatrian, governor of Armenia’s southeastern Syunik province, be immediately sacked for assaulting a woman.
“The Zharangutyun party believes that Surik Khachatrian’s unacceptable deed does not befit a man and especially the official position occupied by him and … demands from the authorities to make a political evaluation of the governor affiliated with the [ruling] HHK,” it said in a statement. “That must at least entail administrative consequences in the form of dismissal.”
The statement came the day after Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) said that Khachatrian did hit businesswoman Silva Hambardzumian at a Yerevan hotel last month just days after she accused him of business-related fraud. But the SIS said the governor will not be prosecuted on “beating” charges because he did not injure Hambardzumian.
Representatives of President Serzh Sarkisian’s HHK, of which Khachatrian is a member, said earlier that they will not comment on the incident before the SIS investigation is over. They have not reacted to the SIS announcement yet.
Zaruhi Postanjian, a Zharangutyun parliamentarian, challenged the presidential party to speak up now. “It’s time to make a political evaluation,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Naira Zohrabian, another female lawmaker representing the Prosperous Armenia Party, a junior partner in the governing coalition, said she will not judge the controversial governor because Hambardzumian is largely satisfied with the outcome of the SIS probe.
“If there are some circumstances that suddenly restored that lady’s dignity and she no longer has any problem [with Khachatrian,] then I think any evaluation would simply be inappropriate,” Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “I will just say that I have found it unacceptable and will always find it unacceptable for an official to solve any issue with fists.”
The SIS’s decision not to prosecute Khachatrian makes his sacking extremely unlikely. Human rights campaigners and opposition politicians say he will not lose his job because of forthcoming parliamentary elections and his ability to strongly influence their results in Syunik.